Thursday, April 11, 2013

Japan-Taiwan Senkakus Fishing Agreement Makes a Splash

A spider grabs a bee for lunch in Taichung.

The Ma Administration finally did something right. News swept the region and the world this week that Japan and Taiwan have entered into a fishing agreement for the waters around the Senkaku islands...will there be peace? (Japan Times):
Japan and Taiwan concluded a long-awaited fisheries agreement Wednesday in Taipei after officials from both sides formally resumed negotiations for the first time in four years.

The deal will allow Taiwanese trawlers to operate in part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, sources close to the talks said.

Under the deal, Japan and Taiwan will designate an area in Japan’s EEZ as jointly managed waters where fishing by both Japanese and Taiwanese boats will be allowed.

The jointly controlled zone excludes waters within a 12-nautical-mile (19-km) radius of the Japan-held Senkakus.
Since things remain to be negotiated, the two sides agreed to set up a joint fisheries committee to carry on with the work. The Asahi Shimbun pointed out that the lack of agreement meant that Japanese Coast Guard vessels had seized many Taiwanese boats; this should now stop. Michal Thim at Taiwan Perspective gives the details of the agreement. Thim notes:
From Taiwan’s perspective, reaching a deal on fishing rights is the optimal result. Taiwan does not have physical control over the islands and has limited means and thus basically no reason to try and acquire physical control. Domestic public opinion does not allow for a strong anti-Japanese stance and Taiwanese are little interested in territorial nationalism. Thus, fishing rights are the only issue that the public really cares about and this is well reflected by politicians, both from ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who face major elections every two years.
As a number of analyses have pointed out, the fishing agreement makes Ma look good at home. On the Japanese side, the agreement enables Tokyo to split Ma from Beijing by offering him a deal. Democracy at work, Ma is following the same policies the DPP did for the same reasons, because they are popular at home. One of the ways Taiwan's democracy protects Taiwan is that it helps enforce such outcomes regardless of which party is in power. The public cares about fishing rights, but does not care about ROC territorial claims, since it identifies with the ROC only to the extent that the ROC is identified with Taiwan. Although, I suspect Washington was quietly working in the backrooms, pushing for Taipei to mend fences with Tokyo and to stop irritating relations with Japan. Corey Wallace, writing on the Japanese media:
While the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Suge has already argued publicly that the agreement was to restore order over the East China Sea fishing issue and not to “split” China and Taiwan over perceived cooperation surrounding the Senkaku sovereignty dispute, no one, including the Japanese media, believes him. Both Jiji (日) and Yomiuri (日) report that an additional reason for the agreement is indeed to silence repeated Chinese calls for PRC-ROC cooperation over the territorial dispute. Jiji notes that domestically Ma has been forced to become somewhat less of a “hardliner” on the territorial dispute, and Japan’s willingness to make significant concessions played a part in pushing Ma towards relaxing his stance (Richard Katz, of The Oriental Economist, notes in a NBR post that many in Taiwan wanted to prioritize the fishing issue over the territorial issue, as also noted by Michal).
Wallace also described that PM Abe comes out of a line of politicians who are pro-Taiwan and who were more willing to make concessions. His and Thim's writings are excellent and should be read in their entirety.

BBC reported that Beijing was whining, as usual. On the surface it looks like Ma's coordination of "activism" in the Senkakus with Beijing will now be curtailed, to Beijing's detriment. I wonder seriously about this and about whether this will backfire on Tokyo and Washington....

For one thing, the agreement is to set aside "sovereignty" differences -- an actual application of mutual non-denial -- but does anyone really not believe that come September, the traditional month of traducing Tokyo, that "activists" campaigning "with no official backing" (the last time they were apparently funded by WantWant owner Robert Tsai) will nonetheless appear off the Senkakus, guarded by Taiwan's mighty water-firing coast guard cannon and fomenting incidents with Japan? After all, two more ships were just commissioned expressly for the purpose of safeguarding sovereignty in contested waters and fishing rights, said Ma hisownself. Taipei can always claim they were freelancers and there is nothing it can do.... the fact that this option exists and of course Tokyo must be aware of it suggests that there is either a secret protocol or an informal agreement that activist stupidity must cease. Otherwise Tokyo is going to look pretty inept when the Ma government shrugs with feigned helplessness and allows "activists" to perturb its relations with Tokyo over some rocks which only Beijing and the KMT argue are Chinese.

But let's say that all is well and the KMT Administration really does restrain its tiny menagerie of pro-Bejing loon-activists. Well hello! What will Beijing have to do to make up for the absence of Taipei as its proxy prick against the goads of Tokyo? Step up the pressure, that's what! Ironically, this agreement to make tuna, not war, might actually result in greater trouble in the Senkakus by removing the Taiwanese proxy and replacing it with real Chinese warships facing Japanese ships. The CS Monitor's staid approval notwithstanding, we'll have to wait for the annual fall antics of Beijing and "activists" in Hong Kong and Taiwan before we really have a handle on what this means.
Daily Links:
  • Way cool not Taiwan: NASA video: Watery environment on Mars
    "What the Curiosity team has found is incredibly exciting. When we combine what we've learned from our remote sensing and contact science instruments, with the data that's coming in from CheMin and SAM, we et get a picture of an ancient, watery environment, which would have been habitable had life been present in it."
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Anonymous said...

Micheal, Which is the camera for taking the much envied "macro" shots?
Thank you. HY

yankdownunder said...



"From Tokyo’s perspective, removing Taipei as a claimant allows it to focus fully on China."

Taipei is still a claimant.
Japan's "focus" should always be on China. Taipei is a nuisance but not a real threat.

"Trade relations between Beijing and Tokyo are governed by WTO rules, thus limiting the scope of economic punitive measures."

China is not governed by WTO rules or any rules.

"... a face saving formula especially for Taipei."

He got that right.


"This will open up the fields to competition, at the expense of Ishigaki (Okinawa) fisherman, particularly for the prized kuro-maguro (northern bluefin tuna)
Nevertheless, the Japanese Fishing Agency (suisancho 水産庁) still
continued to oppose a deal. But the Kantei eventually overruled its
objections and from that point the decisive concession regarding access to prized tuna fishing stocks was able to be extended to the Taiwanese in April. The Taiwanese were able to claim a significant domestic victory for the Ma government, and the Foreign Minister at the signing ceremony boasted that Taiwan had increased its officially recognized fishing areas a further 4530 square kilometers."

It looks like Okinawa is again doing all the suffering for Japan.


" ... Tokyo is going to look pretty inept when ..."

Yes they will look and yes they are "pretty inept".

"... this agreement to make tuna, not war, might actually result in
greater trouble ..."

This agreement is bad in so many ways. It will not work!

yankdownunder said...

The Asahi Shimbun pointed out that the lack of agreement meant that Japanese Coast Guard vessels had seized many Taiwanese boats; this should now stop.

"The lack of a fisheries pact has meant that many Taiwanese fishing boats have been seized by Japan Coast Guard cutters."

Taiwanese fishing boats illegally fishing in Japanese waters has meant that many Taiwanese fishing boats have been seized by Japan Coast Guard cutters.

"The waters around the Senkaku Islands are considered traditional operating areas for Taiwanese fishermen."
Bullsh!t. Asahi Shimbun is full of it.

Michael Turton said...

Anonymous said...
Micheal, Which is the camera for taking the much envied "macro" shots?
Thank you. HY

Any DSLR will fine. I purchased an inexpensive Canon 550D. The key is a high quality dedicated macro lens. I use a Tokina 100mm macro lens. You should also read a few books on photo composition to learn how to get them right. It made a huge improvement in my photography.


yankdownunder said...

Okinawa protests Japan-Taiwan fisheries accord.

Okinawa Prefecture has strongly protested an agreement by Japan and Taiwan on fishing rights in waters near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Takara expressed deep regret that the agreement ignores local fishermen's requests while ceding much to Taiwan.

Hayashi said he will listen to Okinawa fishermen and consider how they may suffer. He suggested that the government will try to reflect local demands when it draws up specific fishing rules with Taiwan.

Tokyo doesn't care if Okinawa suffers.

Readin said...

When Chen was in power, he pushed hard against the Chinese which made them more willing to negotiate with Taiwan (though they strategically waited for Ma). Reagan pushed the Soviets hard and they became more willing to negotiate. Much as I hate to give credit to Ma, it would seem that his hard-line tactics against Japan have paid dividends for Taiwanese fishermen. Was that Ma strategy?

Anonymous said...


it is rather easy to select few sentences from the whole piece to make author look silly, is not it? :)

I do not really say that Taiwan cease to be claimant and you cannot say I do if you read the whole piece, Ma may rant once in a while about the sovereignty issue but that would be it...there is an agreement to safeguard, agreement that is arguably good for Taiwan. China is of course major concern for Japan but if you were following the issue in past then you know there has been a lot of talking about what if Taiwan and China is in Japan's interest to work against it no matter if you consider Taiwan nuisance or not...the deal is proof. If you have an alternative hypothesis, go ahead and we can discuss.

I said trade relations between the two countries are governed by WTO may suggest that China does not care, I'd argue that even China cannot afford to appear to be in open violation of trade rules.

Michael Turton said...

Much as I hate to give credit to Ma, it would seem that his hard-line tactics against Japan have paid dividends for Taiwanese fishermen. Was that Ma strategy?

I was wondering that too, except I doubt that Ma gives a shit about Taiwanese fisherman.