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Taiwan boats off disputed islands

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Publication Date : 26-09-2012


About 40 Taiwan fishing boats escorted by eight patrol vessels entered Japanese territorial waters off Uotsurijima island, one of the Senkaku Islands (also known in Taiwan as Tiaoyutai Islands and in China as Diaoyu) yesterday morning, the Japan Coast Guard said.

JCG patrol ships warned them by radio and other means to leave the territorial waters. The area was packed with a total of about 50 Taiwan fishing boats and patrol ships from Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration as well as JCG patrol ships, with Taiwan and Japanese patrol ships spraying water at each other.

About four hours later, all the Taiwan ships left Japanese waters in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture.

According to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, JCG patrol ships confirmed 40 to 50 Taiwan fishing boats and about 10 patrol ships in the contiguous zone—a 22 kilometre strip beyond territorial waters—off Uotsurijima, at about 6 a.m.

The Taiwan ships, spreading across an area about 13 kilometres in diameter, sailed toward Uotsurijima. Of them, about 40 fishing boats and eight patrol ships entered Japanese waters between 7:40 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.

The 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters also mobilised small patrol boats. A total of about 30 JCG ships and boats responded to the incursion into Japanese waters by the Taiwan vessels.

JCG patrol ships surrounded the Taiwan fishing boats and JCG patrol boats blocked their course and sprayed water at them. The JCG boats warned them not to approach the Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by Taipei.

In response, the Taiwan patrol ships said the area is Taiwan waters and that the boats were engaged in legitimate operations, urging the JCG ships to leave.

The Taiwan fishing boats did not seem to be operating in Japanese waters. They had banners asserting, "Tiaoyutai belongs to Taiwan" in Chinese.

The fishing boats heading toward Uotsurijima then turned around. By 11:45 a.m., all the Taiwan fishing boats and patrol ships left Japanese waters. They then took a course back toward Taiwan, according to the JCG.

Meanwhile, Chinese surveillance ships were also spotted off the Senkaku Islands yesterday. As of 9 a.m., four Haijian marine surveillance ships and two Yuzheng fishery surveillance ships were sailing in the contiguous zone north of Kubashima island, the JCG said. In addition, four Yuzheng fishery surveillance ships were seen around the Senkaku Islands.

In response to the incursion into Japanese waters by the Taiwan fishing boats and patrol ships, the government set up a countermeasures office under the crisis control centre of the Prime Minister's Office yesterday morning.

"The government will strive to gather information concerning security around the Senkaku Islands seriously and take all possible measures in vigilance and surveillance activities," Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a press conference yesterday morning. "The matter should be resolved within the amicable Japan-Taiwan relationship. We'd like to deal with the issue in a coolheaded manner."

Meanwhile, the Interchange Association in Tokyo, headquarters of Japan's representative office in Taipei, yesterday morning lodged a protest with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan, Taiwan's representative office in Tokyo, and other entities, over the intrusion into Japanese waters by the Taiwan fishing boats and patrol ships and demanded immediate withdrawal.

Taiwan media aboard ships

Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration announced yesterday that a group of Taiwan fishing boats that intruded into Japanese waters had exited from a 12-nautical-mile zone off the Senkaku Islands.

The group of fishing boats reportedly comprised 60 boats, most of which belong to the Suao Fishermen's Association in the northeastern county of Yilan in Taiwan. About 290 fishermen participated in the trip to waters off the Senkaku Islands. Also, 62 journalists from Taiwan media were aboard three of the fishing boats.


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