Tokyo, Taiwan's top envoy to Japan declared Tuesday the government's stance on the latest maritime dispute between the two nations, saying that Taiwan will protect its fishermen and defend its national sovereignty, but will also undertake a self-review.
The dispute occurred over the weekend when the Taiwanese fishing boat Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 was chased and subjected to water-cannon fire by Japanese patrol boats in waters within an overlapping area of Taiwan's and Japan's exclusive economic zones (EEZs).
Frank Hsieh (???) said Taiwan lodged a protest with Japan Monday, saying that the vessel was not fishing at the time.
That point is important, because if fishing is not taking place, even if the boat sails into Japan's territorial waters, it could be defined as "innocent passage," said Hsieh.
It was inappropriate to "chase us or chase us to our territory" while no act of fishing was being conducted, Hsieh contended.
Contending Japan's accusation that the Taiwanese boat had not just sailed across the boundary but was also fishing, Hsieh said Japan has to provide proof, which had so far not been forthcoming.
"We will definitely uphold the stance of protecting fishermen and defending sovereignty; but internally, we must also review ourselves," because the boat violated the regulation that bans recreational fishery activities on waters outside 30 nautical miles from the coastline, Hsieh noted.
According to a statement released by Taiwan's Fisheries Agency Monday, the Su'ao-registered Tung Pan Chiu No. 28 was chased off by Japanese Fisheries Agency vessels Saturday when it was about 10 nautical miles outside the fishing zone specified in the 2013 Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement.
An investigation has been launched to determine whether the boat was actually fishing in those waters, the agency said, adding that it will also ask the Japanese side to present proof of any irregularities on the part of the Taiwanese boat.
Then on Sunday the boat, the agency went on, which was chartered as a recreational angling vessel, crossed Taiwan's temporary enforcement line but remained within the overlapping EEZ with Japan.
Although that sea area is not part of the agreed fishing zone specified in the 2013 agreement, Taiwanese vessels have the right to fish there, the agency contended.
In Taipei, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Andrew Lee (???) called the incident a result of Japan's excessive enforcement of the law, and said that the ministry has lodged a stern protest.
Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu (???), meanwhile, pledged to put the fishery dispute concerning the overlapping EEZ with Japan that falls outside the fishing zone specified in the 2013 agreement on the agenda of the annual Taiwan-Japan fishery committee meeting.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel