Spent the day listening to lesser known Romantics like Raff and resting after several days of hard biking and traveling. Working on lectures for the new semester was respite from the idiotic Senkaku Islands dispute, which continues to stink up the news like the rotting corpse of a dead animal lodged beyond reach between the walls.
Comic relief this week was provided by the pro-China team, in the form of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) recalling Taiwan's emissary to Japan after Japan's government decided to nationalize the islands by purchasing them from their Japanese owners. No doubt the Japanese government was delighted to see him go, since he won't be lecturing them in Tokyo as long as he is in Taiwan. The Japanese representative in Taiwan was also called in and a protest lodged. Completing the farce, far-right activists protested yesterday, right on cue.
There was a sudden intrusion of the salty water of sanity into the news cycle as former President Lee Teng-hui, on a trip visiting areas that were hit by the big quake thirteen years ago this month, said once again that the Senkakus are Japanese and that the important issue isn't ownership but fishing rights. TT reports:
Asked by reporters about Ma’s proposal to resolve the controversy in two stages — which calls for holding three sets of bilateral dialogues between Taiwan, Japan and China, before holding a three-party talk — Lee said “no one in the international community would buy into the initiative.”This is much too sensible. Lee's remarks reminded me of a conversation I had the other day with a longtime reporter on the island, who pointed out that Chen Shui-bian had also focused on the pragmatic issues of getting fishing access instead of making trouble like Ma Ying-jeou -- remember when Ma promised to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker? Chen not only kept his eye on the fishing ball, he also reduced tensions by reducing the military units in the three small northern islands off Taiwan and switching them for Coast Guard units, the reporter pointed out. Chen did repeat the bombastic claim that Taiwan owned the Diaoyutai, however, in his own high-profile visit (TT report from Aug 2005).
The 89-year-old, who had publicly said that Japan has sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, sidestepped the question of sovereignty, saying that the Japanese government’s nationalization of the islets “was a business transaction between its government and citizens that has nothing to do with Taiwan.”
He urged the government to focus on finding a resolution to fishing rights, which he said was a more important task because it involved the livelihood of fishermen in Yilan County.
The Diaoyutais have been the fishing ground of Taiwanese fishermen since the Japanese colonial period, Lee said.
Since Taiwan and Japan have failed to reach a consensus after 16 consultative meetings on fishing rights over the years, Lee suggested having fishermen’s associations from both sides work out a solution on their own.
Meanwhile fishing talks are going nowhere...
The date of the negotiations will have to be decided by the two sides, but with the current dispute over the Tiaoyutai Islands, the attitude of Japan becomes the most important factor in determining the nature of the talks, Yang said at a press conference held to protest Japan's move to buy some of the disputed islets.Yes, that's right, MOFA yells at the Japanese ambassador, blames Japan for the stalled negotiations, and then wants Japan to forget all that and hand them some fishing rights. Yeah, that'll work.
Earlier in the day, Yang summoned Japan's top envoy to Taiwan, Sumio Tarui, to protest Japan's move to buy three of the disputed islands.
He said Tarui has proposed to resolve fishery disputes between Taiwan and Japan through negotiations.
However, Yang told Tarui that Japan needs to "show more goodwill" and to give Taiwanese fisherman the right to operate in their traditional fishing grounds.
"We have not seen Japan showing true goodwill in the past 16 fishery negotiations," said the minister.
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