Taiwan fishermen getting okay to fish Senkakus

Japan and Taiwan this week have signed new agreements that, among other things, permit Taiwanese to fish in the disputed East China Sea waters Japan calls the Senkaku Islands.

Taiwan and China both claim the disputed islands in southwestern Okinawa Prefecture  with Taiwan referring them as Tiaoyutai and China as the Diaoyu.  The new fishing agreement was negotiated in April, but it’s taken further discussions on taxes, pharmaceutical issues, railway cooperation and maritime and airborne search and rescue issues to bring the final documents to the table.

Taiwanese fishermen are now granted the right to fish in the waters surrounding the five uninhabited Senkaku Islands, a move the Taiwan government is calling a milestone.  China, on the other hand, is irritated with the move, as it claims the Diaoyus belong to it.  The fishing rights issue has been talked about since 1996, but rocky periods in the negotiations led to breakdowns in the talks a couple years ago.  The talks resume late last year.  With the new agreement, Taiwanese fishermen can ply their trade in the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone of the islands.  That zone is also claimed by China, in addition to Japan and Taiwan.

Other critical issues covered in the trade agreements signed Tuesday dealt with patents and e-commerce. A total of five agreements were signed, “broadening and consolidating ties with Japan,” according Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao.  The patents application issue was a crucial one for the two countries, as Japan in the past has been filing more than 10,000 patent applications annually, compared with only 3,000 patent applications Taiwan was seeking from Japan.