Tsai urges against 'unilateral actions' in Diaotuyais dispute
Taipei, June 24 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Wednesday urged all parties involved in the territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea to avoid taking "unilateral actions" that could escalate regional tensions.
The decades-long dispute resurfaced recently after a Japanese city decided to change the administration designation of the islands, and Tsai reiterated Taiwan's claim over the islands while issuing the appeal against destabilizing actions.
The president also repeated her administration's pledge to protect Taiwanese fishermen's rights to operate in waters near the Diaoyutais, which are also claimed by China and Japan, where they are known as the Senkakus.
Tsai made the comments two days after the Ishigaki City assembly voted to change the name of the administrative zone that includes the Diaoyutais, resulting in a protest from Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
The move infringed on Taiwan's territorial claims, the MOFA said, reiterating that no unilateral actions would change the fact of Taiwan's sovereignty over the Diaoyutais.
Following Monday's vote, the administrative zone, now known as Tonoshiro, will be called Tonoshiro Senkaku starting in October, according to Japanese media reports.
In a Wednesday press release, MOFA further noted that based on its understanding, Ishigaki's decision was largely made to counter China's recent moves in sending its patrol vessels to repel Japanese fishing boats operating in waters near the Diaoyutais.
MOFA said Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration (CGA) regularly has one to three patrol vessels in the area to protect Taiwanese fishing vessels in the area.
It said the CGA patrols have been successful in protecting Taiwanese fishermen because no Taiwanese fishing vessel operating in the East China Sea has been confiscated by the Japanese Coast Guard since 2016.
Meanwhile, MOFA said it is in talks with the Japanese side after a Taiwanese fishing vessel was briefly stopped by two Japanese fishing boats when the three were operating in the East China Sea on Tuesday.
According to the CGA, the Yilan-registered vessel "Sheng Fu No. 16" called for the CGA's help after the two Japanese vessels asked it to stop operations on Tuesday morning.
The Taiwanese boat originally thought the two vessels were Japanese official vessels until they were later identified as recreational fishing boats, according to the CGA.
The Japanese ships left the scene before a CGA patrol vessel arrived.
CGA said such harassment violated the terms stipulated in a Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement, and it asked MOFA to discuss the issue with the Japanese.
The 2013 deal was signed to allow Taiwanese and Japanese fishermen to operate freely in overlapping areas of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in the East China Sea despite the sovereignty dispute.
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