Japan, Taiwan to hold second preparatory fishery talks

Kyodo

Japanese and Taiwanese officials will probably meet again as early as January to prepare for the reopening of formal talks on allowing Taiwanese boats to fish in disputed waters controlled by Japan in the East China Sea, Taiwanese Foreign Minister David Lin said Monday.

“Both sides will meet again, possibly in January or February next year,” Lin told a legislative committee. “Given goodwill on both sides, we hope to see something concrete reached during the second preparatory meeting, including the zoning of operating waters.”

Taiwan has proposed to Japan that a jointly controlled area be drawn in waters off the disputed Senkaku Islands so both sides can fish in each other’s overlapping exclusive economic zones.

The preparatory talks are aimed at setting the agenda, time and place for a formal meeting.

Taiwanese officials involved in the negotiations have said several rounds of preparatory talks may be held before a formal meeting takes place.

Japan and Taiwan held the first preparatory meeting in Tokyo on Nov. 30 and agreed to meet again soon for further preparations.

Lin predicted then that the formal fishery talks, which have not been held since February 2009 due to a row between Taipei and Tokyo over sovereignty of the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, could resume as early as next spring, if all goes well.

Since Taiwan and Japan began fishery talks in 1996, 16 rounds of negotiations have been held.

Taiwan and Japan had originally planned to reopen the 17th round of talks at the beginning of October, but the plan was put on hold following the Japanese government’s Sept. 11 purchase of some of the Senkakus from a Japanese private owner, thus effectively nationalizing the chain.

The move sparked a row with Taiwan and China, which also claim them.