Okinawa Assembly protests accord

Kyodo

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly lodged a protest with the central government Monday over the signing of a fishery accord with Taiwan that could hurt the local economy.

Some members of the assembly visited Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato in Tokyo to hand over a letter of protest, which was unanimously adopted last week by the assembly.

Japan and Taiwan signed the accord earlier this month to allow fishing boats to operate in part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Tensions have been growing over the disputed islets, which have long been controlled by Japan but have been recently claimed by China and Taiwan. While Beijing had called for cooperation with Taipei in the dispute, the fishing agreement was widely considered a concession by Tokyo to prevent the two rivals from uniting against it.

Protesters in Okinawa have criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for ignoring the interests of the local fisheries industry in waters well known as good grounds for tuna.

“We will protect (the interests of) local fishermen in future rule-settings,” Kato told the visiting assemblymen. After the meeting, assembly member Akira Uehara quoted Kato as saying the central government may have failed to sufficiently consider the feelings of people in Okinawa.