Taiwan protests renaming of contested islands by Japanese locality

10/01/2020 05:59 PM
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From Kyodo News
From Kyodo News

Taipei, Oct. 1 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Thursday protested the renaming, by a Japanese local government, of the administrative designation of a group of islands claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan.

In a press statement issued on Thursday, MOFA said it expressed regret and made a "sober protest" to the Japanese side through diplomatic channels, without indicating whether the protest was made in verbal or written form.

The MOFA statement was in response to the renaming of the administrative district of the Senkaku Islands from "Tonoshiro" to "Tonoshiro Senkaku," by Japan's Ishigaki City government earlier the same day

The group of islands, claimed by Taipei as the Diaoyutai Islands and by Beijing as the Diaoyu Islands, are uninhabited sea features situated about 185km from Taiwan's northern tip, 157km northwest of Ishigaki and 350km east of China's Wenzhou.

Japan's Ishigaki City Council passed a resolution on June 22 directing the local government to rename the disputed islands.

According to Ishigaki officials earlier in July, the renaming of the islands was intended to send a message to China, which has increased its harassment of Japanese fishing boats in the area.

MOFA reiterated that the Diaoyutai Islands are part of the territory of the Republic of China (ROC), the formal name of Taiwan.

"The Diaoyutai Islands are undoubtedly inherent parts of the ROC. The fact that our country has sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands will not change because of unilateral actions by other countries," MOFA said.

MOFA also urged the Japanese side to show restraint and refrain from interrupting the fishing operations of Taiwanese fishermen in the area so that bilateral friendship is not affected.

On Sunday, Taiwanese fishing boat "Hsin Ling Po 236" was reportedly hit by a Japanese Coast Guard vessel in waters west of the Diaoyutai Islands. No one was hurt but the fishing boat was damaged on the starboard side.

The Japanese Coast Guard claimed the Hsin Ling Po 236 was illegally operating inside the 12 nautical mile territorial waters of the group of islands, which the Taiwanese fishermen denied.

In July, a spokesperson from the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA), an organization which represents Japan's interests in Taiwan, told CNA that the renaming of the administrative district would not affect the fishing rights of Taiwanese fishermen in designated waters.

According to a fisheries agreement signed by Taiwan and Japan in 2013, Taiwanese fishermen are allowed to operate in the area, though not in waters within 12 nautical miles of the islands.

(By Emerson Lim)

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