Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Minister David Lee said that the government is slated to start maritime negotiations with Japan by late July in an effort to better protect Taiwan fishermen's rights on the high seas.
Taipei and Tokyo will kick off two-way talks by the end of July and Lee pledged that the government will do its best to safeguard Taiwanese fishermen's rights, Lee said.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen vowed in her inaugural address on Friday to seek regional cooperation, increase the island’s international profile and clear people wronged in the past.
To settle fishery and other disputes with Japan, Taipei and Tokyo had decided to establish a mechanism for maritime cooperation at the end of July, cabinet spokesman Tung Chen-yuan said.
“The new government has decided to resort to negotiation rather than a legal approach in resolving the latest dispute,” Tung said, referring to Japan’s seizure of a Taiwanese fishing boat when it sailed near the Japanese reef of Okinotori last month. Japan said the boat had violated its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
The preceding government of Ma Ying-jeou had taken a more confrontational approach to the dispute, threatening the deployment of security forces to guard Taiwanese fishermen in the contested area.
Ma declined to recognize Japan's claims to Okinotori's status and an EEZ extending from the geographical feature; he described the outpost as "rocks," not an island, a distinction under UNCLOS which would disallow an EEZ claim.