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Taiwan minister lodges protest to Tokyo envoy over Diaoyutais

Publication Date : 26-09-2012


Taiwan's foreign minister yesterday lodged a strong protest with a Japanese envoy who was sent to Taipei to discuss the dispute regarding Tokyo's recent controversial actions in “nationalising” the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

Foreign Minister Timothy Yang made the protest during a closed-door meeting with Tadashi Imai, president of the Japan Interchange Association (JIA) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (Mofa) headquarters in Taipei.

The meeting lasted about two hours from 3 to 5pm yesterday. Imai, who arrived in Taipei around noon yesterday, did not make any comments regarding his trip when confronted by local media before and after his meeting with Yang. He was scheduled to leave Taipei for Tokyo last night.

Before it officially began, the meeting was opened to media for a brief five minutes as Yang told Imai, head of the JIA which represents Japan's interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, that he hopes the special envoy can convey the Taiwan government's strong protest over Tokyo's recent move when he returns to Japan.

“On behalf of the Republic of China's Foreign Ministry, I have to express our government's sever protest, though it is regretful that we have to meet again under these circumstances,” Yang told Imai in front of the media.

Imai had previously served as head of the JIA's Taipei office for two years from 2010 to earlier this year before he was posted back to Tokyo to take up the position of the JIA's president.

Both sides have made significant progress in boosting ties during Imai's two-year tenure in Taipei, Yang said.

Stressing that Taiwan cherishes its friendship with Japan, Yang noted that Japan's purchase of three islets in the disputed island chain has lead to controversy and drawn severe protest from Taiwan.

But he also acknowledged Tokyo's decision to send Imai to Taiwan to explain Japan's Diaoyutais “nationalisation,” adding that the envoy's Taipei tour is a positive approach initiated by Japan that might be able to put an end to the controversy.

During their meeting, the Japanese envoy also lodged a protest with Taiwan over its fishermen's decision to sail into seas near the disputed islands. But Yang has rejected Imai's protest, reiterating that the island groups are an inherent part of the nation's territory, according to a Mofa statement.

Imai also said his government does not wish the issue to affect the cordial ties between Taipei and Tokyo, the ministry said.

To peacefully resolve the dispute, Yang yesterday urged the Japanese government to make a positive response to the East China Sea Peace Initiative President Ma Ying-jeou put forward last month.

In their meeting, Imai and Yang also discussed the rights of Taiwanese fishermen to operate in waters near the disputed islands.

In recent years, Taiwanese fishing vessels have been harassed and chased away by Japanese Coast Guard vessels near the Diaoyutai Islands.

Imai's one-day visit was part of Tokyo's policy to explain its nationalisation of the islets to both China and Taiwan, which both claim sovereignty over the islands.


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