《TAIPEI TIMES》 Concern after fishing vessel harassed off Diaoyutais

INSTABILITY? The regional situation has become increasingly intricate amid military and political incidents, the president said, vowing to defend the nation’s interests

By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter

The government yesterday said that it had expressed its concern to Tokyo after a Taiwanese fishing vessel was reportedly harassed by two Japanese ships near the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), adding that it would defend regional stability amid the “increasingly intricate” situation.

The Sheng Fu No. 16, which is based in Yilan County’s Suao Township (蘇澳), on Tuesday reported that two Japan Coast Guard ships took photographs and asked it to stop its activities when it was about 63 nautical miles (117km) northeast of Yilan.

The Coast Guard Administration dispatched a 500-tonne vessel to patrol the area, but did not encounter any Japan Coast Guard ships, it said.

The Fisheries Agency reported that the Taiwanese ship was disturbed by two Japanese fishing vessels, not Japan Coast Guard ships, but that their actions still contravened the two nations’ fisheries agreement.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday reaffirmed the nation’s sovereignty over the islands and said the government would work to maintain regional stability.

She called on neighboring nations to remain calm and cease any unilateral action that might provoke regional instability.

The Executive Yuan has ordered the coast guard to do its utmost to ensure fishers’ rights and safety, and over the past four years Taiwanese fishers had not been obstructed when operating in the waters near the islands, she said.

“Fisheries rights are also a form of sovereignty rights,” Tsai said.

The regional situation has become increasingly intricate amid many ongoing military and political incidents, Tsai said, adding that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, her administration would continue to defend the nation’s interests and security.

The coast guard later yesterday said that the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries confirmed that it had sent a ship to “warn” the Taiwanese vessel using an electronic bulletin board as “preventive action.”

The Taiwanese ship’s vessel monitoring system showed that it had operated near, but did not exceed, the agreed border north of the Yaeyama Islands, Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Lin Kuo-ping (林國平) said.

Taiwan and Japan in 2013 signed a fisheries agreement that demarcated an agreed-upon area where fishers from both nations could operate. The area does not include the 12 nautical miles around the Diaoyutai Islands, which are claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan to express the government’s concern about the case to Tokyo, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement yesterday.

After Chinese vessels repeatedly entered waters near the Diaoyutai Islands, Ishigaki City Council of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture proposed changing the islands’ administrative name from “Tonoshiro” to “Tonoshiro Senkaku.”

The proposal was passed by the council on Monday.

Yilan County Council on June 11 passed a provisional motion recommending that the islands be renamed Toucheng Township Diaoyutai (頭城釣魚台). The council on Tuesday established an office charged with protecting the islands and invited fishers to visit the islands on July 7.

Additional reporting by CNA and Lin Ching-lun

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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