Taiwan investigating collision in disputed waters: Premier Su

09/29/2020 03:29 PM
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Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) / CNA photo Sept. 29, 2020
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) / CNA photo Sept. 29, 2020

Taipei, Sept. 29 (CNA) Taiwan's government is currently investigating an incident two days ago in which a Taiwanese fishing vessel was allegedly rammed by a Japanese coastguard ship in contested waters, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Tuesday.

The Taiwanese government will not allow any infringements to the rights of Taiwanese fishermen, Su said, answering questions from reporters before attending a legislative session for next year's national budget.

"As to what really transpired, I have already instructed our Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and Fisheries Agency to conduct a thorough investigation," Su said.

"If the investigation finds our fishermen to be in the right, the government will help them seek compensation for damages," he stressed.

The "Hsin Ling Po 236," a Su'ao-registered Taiwanese fishing boat, was reportedly hit by the Japanese Coast Guard vessel "Kurima" at around 2 p.m. on Sunday in waters west of the disputed Diaoyutai Islands, according to a statement issued by Taiwan's Foreign Ministry on Sunday.

The starboard side of the "Hsin Ling Po 236" was damaged, according to the CGA, which immediately sent a patrol boat to assist the fishing boat.

Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt in the incident.

Taiwan, Japan and China all claim ownership of the Diaoyutai Islands, called Senkaku islands by the Japanese side. The uninhabited group of islands are situated about 185 km from Taiwan's northern tip, 415 km from Japan's Naha and 350 km from China's Wenzhou.

To minimize maritime conflicts in overlapping exclusive economic zones, Taiwan and Japan signed a fisheries agreement in 2013 under which Taiwanese fishermen are allowed to operate within a designated zone, excluding territorial sea (12 nautical miles) around the islands.

Asked whether Taiwan's government will file a protest with the Japanese side, Su reiterated that Taiwan will respond based on the findings of the investigation.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said the same day at a regular press conference that the collision happened at the western edge of Diaoyutai's territorial sea.

Ou said the coordinates of the location where the incident occurred were 25°48'N 123°15'E.

The government remains resolute in protecting the right of fishermen to fish, Ou stressed, adding that the Taiwan side will respond based on the findings of the investigation.

(By Emerson Lim)

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