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Finger-pointing stymies Yonaguni-Taiwan flights

Date Posted: 2009-06-11

It’s only 111 kilometers between Yonaguni Town and Taiwan, but bureaucratic and political red tape make the distance seem totally beyond reach.

The Yaeyama District Municipality Association has visions of tourism and business expansion that would benefit the southern part of Okinawa Prefecture, and especially Yonaguni Town, by establishing direct air links between the tiny Yonaguni Town and Taipei. It seems logical, the association says, and has worked out all the details for both the Japanese and Taiwanese governments.

An approval’s anything but easy, and far from certain. The current way to fly from Yonaguni to Taipei is to first fly to Ishigaki, then Naha City, then south to Taipei. The association proposes direct flights between Yonaguni and Taipei, but has encountered finger-pointing as each country blames the other for why nothing is happening, each saying “It’s a partner’s problem.”

Japan’s government says “we have done everything for the action, and are now waiting for Taiwan’s answer.” Even the Japan Defense Agency says it’s all up to Taiwan, but the Taiwan side says “we have no problem going for the short cut, but it’s the Japanese side’s problem.” Japan and Taiwan have no diplomatic relations, leaving complications in the negotiation.

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