日台漁業協定 戦略的外交で「尖閣」を守れ

[The Yomiuri Shimbun] April 12, 2013
Japan-Taiwan fisheries pact strategic diplomacy tool to protect Senkakus
日台漁業協定 戦略的外交で「尖閣」を守れ(4月11日付・読売社説)

The Japan-Taiwan fisheries agreement will have a significant impact on preserving Japan's sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

It also demonstrates the direction of the diplomacy being pursued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reinforce strategic relations with China's neighbors to keep the country in check.

Japan and Taiwan reopened official negotiations for the first time in four years over fishing activities in waters near the Senkaku Islands and signed a bilateral agreement on private fishing activities.

The pillar of the agreement is the establishment of a zone exempt from the fishing-related laws of both Japan and Taiwan within Japan's exclusive economic zone, set outside Japan's territorial waters. This will allow Taiwan fishermen to operate in the zone, in addition to another special cooperative operational zone specified in the agreement.

The agreement does not allow Taiwan fishing boats to operate in Japanese territorial waters.

Concerning the Senkaku Islands, both China and Taiwan have claimed territorial rights on the islets. In September last year, many Taiwan fishing boats entered the Japanese territorial waters near the Senkakus. China had called on Taiwan's cooperation in confronting Japan.

The latest agreement is aimed at blocking such cooperation between China and Taiwan. The Chinese side immediately expressed "grave concern" over the agreement as it must have felt displeasure over the Japan-Taiwan cooperation.

Negotiations over fishing have been held intermittently between Japan and Taiwan since 1996, but a compromise could not be reached as the two sides butted heads over operational zones and rules, for example.

The Japanese government asked Taipei to reopen the negotiations in autumn last year, immediately after the Japanese government nationalized some of the Senkaku Islands.

Priority on islands' sovereignty

The call to reopen the talks was based on Japan's diplomatic strategy. Negotiations were led by the Prime Minister's Office. It was a major compromise for Japan on fishing rights as it prioritized protecting the Senkaku Islands. As Taiwan gains practical benefits in expanding its fishing area, the pact thus provides advantages for both sides.

Yet, the problem is whether the terms of the agreement will be smoothly carried out in the actual fishing areas. Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima was vocal in his protest against the Japanese government.
"It is extremely regrettable a major compromise was made. We'll face fierce competition and the shrinkage of quality fishing areas," Nakaima said.

In spring, fishing activities pick up and the waters around the Senkaku Islands are good for catching Pacific bluefin tuna and flame snapper, in addition to other fish. The number of fishing boats to work in the zones and the catches must be coordinated to prevent overfishing.

Japan and Taiwan will establish a joint fisheries committee to put the finishing touches on the agreement.

To appropriately control fisheries resources, which are common assets for coastal nations, both sides need to proceed with the talks while keeping a broad perspective.

Improvement in relations

Fundamentally, Taiwan has been taking a pro-Japanese stance. At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Taiwan provided huge donations. Abe has been taking into consideration the improvement in relations with Taiwan. For instance, at a ceremony to commemorate the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, a place for an official representing Taiwan was prepared alongside seats for the representatives of foreign countries.

The latest fisheries agreement will consequently result in reinforcement of the entire scope of Japan-Taiwan relations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 11, 2013)
(2013年4月11日01時30分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-04-13 08:44 | 英字新聞

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