Taiwan and Japan Sign Historic Fisheries Agreement

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Thursday April 11, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Taiwan and Japan came to agreement on fishing rights in the area around the Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands; it is a welcome agreement for Taiwan fishermen, in particular those from Ilan, who have fished that area for a long time.

The Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands had been a source of contention between three countries, Japan, Taiwan and China with each claiming sovereignty rights, but behind all that was primarily issues of potential (and valuable) mineral rights as well as the fishing rights for Taiwanese. China on the other hand had its own strategic motivations to gain "blue water" access for its naval vessels.

The agreement on fishing rights avoided any discussion of sovereignty rights, which is a welcome point for Taiwan fishermen whose main concern was to still have access to their traditional fishing grounds.

As for China, it is a matter of "who needs you" in Taiwan's eyes. If China wants to work out agreements with Japan other than the ones already established, they are going to have to do it on their own. In the meantime, the bilateral relations between Japan and Taiwan have taken a giant step on their way to improvement. Japan has demonstrated its willingness to work with both countries, that is with both Taiwan and China.