News / Asia

Japan Gives Taiwan Rare Concession in East China Sea Dispute

Taiwan Coast Guard patrol ships are seen during a drill held about 30 nautical miles northwest of the port of Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, March 30, 2013.
Taiwan Coast Guard patrol ships are seen during a drill held about 30 nautical miles northwest of the port of Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, March 30, 2013.
Ralph Jennings
Japan gave Taiwan an unusual break this week in a stubborn ocean territorial dispute that also involves China. The first-ever concession met with applause in Taipei and a word of warning from Beijing. Japan controls the waters, but China and Taiwan both make unwavering claims.

Taiwan had pushed Japan for expanded fishing rights since 1996, vying with Tokyo and China for control of a massive stretch of the East China Sea believed rich in fisheries and natural gas.

On Wednesday talks reached a breakthrough, when Japan agreed to give Taiwanese fishing boats unconditional use of 4,530 more square kilometers of contested ocean.

The fisheries concession does not affect Japan’s four decades of control over the contested sea area, which is anchored by eight uninhabited islets. But the move signals that Japan wants relatively small Taiwan on its side, not China’s.

China has sent planes and allowed destructive mass protests to assert its claim since last year, when Japan nationalized the disputed islets it calls the Senkakus.

Nathan Liu, international affairs professor at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan, says Japan was afraid Taiwan would team up with China.

Handout photograph taken on a marine surveillance plane B-3837 shows the disputed islets, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, December 13, 2012.Handout photograph taken on a marine surveillance plane B-3837 shows the disputed islets, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, December 13, 2012.
x
Handout photograph taken on a marine surveillance plane B-3837 shows the disputed islets, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, December 13, 2012.
Handout photograph taken on a marine surveillance plane B-3837 shows the disputed islets, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, December 13, 2012.
"I think it’s because of what happened last year, because of the nationalization of the Senkaku islands, and China became more aggressive. So Japan worried about the cooperation between Taiwan and China. So that’s the reason why they compromised a little bit," he said.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, urged Japan Wednesday to follow its pledges to recognize only one China and carefully handle issues involving Taiwan. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and forbids its 170 diplomatic allies, including Japan, from activity that suggests Taiwan is a separate country.

Taiwan’s relations with China have improved since 2008 despite Beijing’s claims of sovereignty and Taiwan’s continued self-rule, though officials in Taipei say they are not allied with Beijing in the maritime dispute.

Japan, the world’s third largest economy, already spars with China, the second largest, on a host of other political and historical issues. Japan considers Taiwan a close informal ally, especially during heated disputes with China.

The fisheries breakthrough was received well in Taiwan, where President Ma Ying-jeou has been criticized for doing too little on diplomacy.

Anna Kao, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Taipei, says the fisheries deal followed Taiwan’s efforts to improve ties with Japan.

She says Taiwan has been gradually pushing for improved relations with Japan and only on that foundation were the two sides able to reach consensus on fishing rights. 

Taiwanese fishing boats have historically trawled the disputed waters that are 222 kilometers east of Taipei but would be turned away by Japanese coast guard vessels. Local media reported that the fishing industry was ecstatic about the rights deal as about 800 vessels make their way to the disputed ocean area every year.

You May Like

Video 2nd American Reportedly Killed in Syria

Minnesota television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid