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Taiwan Navy training in Okinawa waters

Date Posted: 2006-08-25

Yonaguni Islands are to be the setting for a series of military training exercises by the Taiwan Navy, but there are questions about what is happening.

The training was to have been last week, but Okinawa Prefecture says it’s not sure if the shooting practice on the island’s west coast actually took place. Fishermen say they’re reluctant to enter the target zone, and “we are afraid to go near the coast” for fear of encountering live fire.

Prefecture officials say the training is approved for an area 23.5 kilometers from Yonaguni Islands, but indicated the practice firing could have begun as late as Tuesday. Despite complaints from area residents, the Prefecture says “there is no damage from training, or even reports they’ve been training, so we will not protest to Taiwan at all.” The local Yonaguni Fishermen’s Association is demanding “we want the prefecture to protect us” by being in the border area.

Prefecture officials say the training site issue will not be referred to the Japanese Diet for action, because “we don’t have any reports about Taiwan training at all.” Motoaki Ikeda, Chairman of the Yonaguni Fishermen’s Association, says “we cant do any fishing in the area, even on the Japanese side, because we don’t want to get into any trouble with Taiwan.”

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