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President touts positive effect of landmark pact with Japan
Central News Agency
2014-04-12 07:29 PM
Taipei, April 12 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Saturday that an agreement Taiwan signed with Japan in 2013 covering fishing rights in their overlapping waters in the East China Sea has helped solve decades-old fishing disputes. The pact, signed on April 10, 2013, gave Taiwanese fishermen an additional 4,530 square kilometers in which they could operate free of Japanese harassment, Ma said at an event in the Yilan County port of Nanfangao to mark the pact's first anniversary. Taiwan and Japan had held 16 unsuccessful rounds of fishing talks since sovereignty disputes over the Diaoyutai islands erupted more than four decades ago, Ma said, but a protest in September 2012 set the stage for progress.

Nearly 300 fishermen in around 60 fishing boats set off from Nanfangao and sailed to the Diaoyutais, called the Senkaku Islands in Japan, to protest Japan's move to nationalize the islands by buying three of them from their private owner, the president said. That resulted in the 17th round of talks that yielded the agreement, which has since limited the number of Taiwanese fishing boats being harassed by Japan to a single vessel, he told Nanfangao fishermen. The government's goal of "no backing down on sovereignty in making big progress in fishing rights," has been achieved, Ma said.

He said the pact and his "East China Sea Peace Initiative," which calls on countries in the region to shelve territorial disputes and jointly tap resources in the East China Sea, have won recognition from the international community. Before Ma talked with the fishermen, around a dozen people dressed in black and holding placards reading "send back the trade-in-services pact with China" tried to get close to the president and heckle him, but they were thwarted by policemen. The Diaoyutais, located about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan and under Japan's administration since 1972, are also claimed by Taiwan and China. (By Worthy Shen and Lilian Wu)

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