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  • Fishermen enraged over Japan's harassment of fishing operations: Ma

    Taipei, Sept. 24 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Monday that Taiwanese fishermen are infuriated by the Japanese coast guard's constant interference of their fishing operations near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

    "If the problem cannot be solved, both sides will have a hard time sitting down discussing other issues," he said.

    President Ma made the remarks while receiving a delegation made up of seven members of the United Kingdom Parliament at the Presidential Office.

    Ma pointed out that when Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule (from 1895 to 1945), Japan designated the archipelago as part of Taiwan's fishing grounds.

    Taiwanese fishermen have conducted fishing operations near the disputed waters for more than a century, he added.

    "But now, Taiwanese fishing boats operating near the disputed region face constant interference by Japan's coast guard and the situation infuriates Taiwanese fishermen," Ma said.

    He urged Japan to acknowledge the dispute over the island group as the first step toward peaceful negotiation over the Diaoyutais.

    Japan is willing to bring its dispute with South Korea over the Dokdo Islands, known as the Takeshima island chain in Japan, to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), but not the Diaoyutai issue, Ma said.

    "That is clearly a double standard at work," Ma added.

    He cited the example of a dispute over North Sea oil fields in the 1960s between Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, which all claimed sovereignty over the region. The case was finally settled at the ICJ in 1969 under the North Sea Continental Shelf case.

    The ICJ's verdict subsequently helped to work out details on Brent crude, which now acts as a benchmark for international oil prices, he said.

    However, such peaceful negotiations will be hard to conduct between China, Japan and Taiwan because "Taiwan lacks diplomatic ties with Japan, and has a special relationship with China," Ma said.

    "For the three parties to talk over the issue is very difficult at the moment," he added.

    He reiterated the East China Sea Peace Initiative he put forth on Aug. 5, urging all related parties to shelve their differences and to jointly explore and develop resources in the disputed waters.

    The Diaoyutai Islands, located around 100 nautical miles off northeastern Taiwan, have been administrated by Japan since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

    (By Li Shu-hua and Ann Chen)