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  • Military is prepared for fishermen's Diaoyutais voyage: minister

    Taipei, Sept. 24 (CNA) The military has response measures in place for contingencies that could arise from a scheduled visit by dozens of Taiwanese fishing boats to the waters near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands Monday afternoon, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu said.

    The military will beef up air patrols over the Diaoyutais and monitor the waters surrounding the islands in the East China Sea, Kao said.

    Amid escalating territorial claims over the island group in the resource-rich region, over 60 Taiwanese fishing boats were set to sail for the Diaoyutais to protest Japan's nationalization of the island chain and to protect Taiwan's fishing rights, according to the Suao Fishermen's Association.

    The Coast Guard Administration will be responsible for escorting the fishing vessels during the visit to the Diaoyutais, while the military will provide related support, Kao said during a hearing at the Legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

    “The ministry has completed preparations for any response measures,”Kao said, adding that senior defense officials will be stationed at a command center in Taipei.

    Tensions over the Diaoyutais have escalated since Sept. 11 when Japan moved to nationalize the island group by buying three of them from a private owner, spurring anti-Japanese protests in many Chinese cities and Hong Kong.

    Hundreds of people also took to the streets of Taipei to protest against Japan’s move.

    Meanwhile, Taiwan recalled its representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun after the purchase of the islands.

    The uninhabited Diaoyutai Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China, lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan. The island chain has been under Japan's control since 1972, but is also claimed by Taiwan and China.

    (By Elaine Hou)
    ENDITEM/npw

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