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Ma: Okinotori Is Reef/ We Will Not Budge an Inch


 Ma: Okinotori Is Reef/ We Will Not Budge an Inch

Source: All Taipei Newspapers

April 29, 2016

President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated yesterday that “Okinotori is a reef,” so “the ROC government opposes Japan’s illegal expansion of jurisdiction in violation of international law.” Ma also announced that the ROC government would safeguard the freedom of its fishermen operating on the high seas in an effective way, and added that he had asked the Coast Guard Administration to send cutters to protect Taiwan fishing boats, saying “this is our fundamental right and we will not budge an inch.”   

 During a news conference in Tokyo, Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida stated yesterday that his government did not accept Taiwan’s position that Okinotori was not an island. Japan had lodged a protest through its representative office in Taipei - the Interchange Association of Japan. According to Fumio Kishida, Okinotori is an island as established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and Japan has the right to an exclusive economic zone around the island.

 Charles Chen (陳以信), spokesman of the Presidential Office, reiterated our unyielding stance. He pointed out that Japan’s claim that Okinotori was an “island” not a “reef”, and thus had the right to claim a 200-nautical mile (370km) exclusive economic zone was “in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and had seriously damaged the rights and interests of our fishermen.”  

 He stressed that it was a fact that Okinotori was a reef not an island, regardless of Japan’s protest. The Japanese government unilaterally violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was seen in a negative light in the international community, and damaged Japan’s international image.  

 Chen stated that if the Japanese government believed its argument could hold water, it should seek international arbitration, so a third party could make an adjudication. How could Japan claim a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone surrounding an atoll less than 10 square meters in area which was unable to sustain human habitation or economic life?

 Tsai Ming-yaw (蔡明耀), secretary-general of the Association of East Asian Relations (亞東關係協會), announced during a regular press briefing on Thursday that Foreign Minister David Lin would summon Mikio Numata, Japan's representative to Taiwan, on Friday morning to register the ROC government's solemn representations over the incident.


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