Tuesday, September 25, 2012

WORLD NEWS: Taiwanese boats enter waters near disputed islands

Dozens of fishing boats and six coast guard ships from Taiwan briefly entered waters close to a disputed island chain in the East China Sea, Japan's Coast Guard said on Tuesday.

The Coast Guard said the vessels had left Japanese territorial waters by noon local time after it issued a warning to the ships. It added that 10 Chinese surveillance ships were in the area but none had strayed into waters regarded by Japan as its territory.

The long-running dispute over the islands has flared up in recent months, triggering anti-Japanese protests in China.

Taiwan, China and Japan all claim ownership of the islands.

Taiwan news agency CNA said that up to 100 fishing boats, escorted by 10 coast guard ships, were making the voyage to assert local fishermen's rights to operate in the waters.

Wang Jinn-wang, head of Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration, was quoted as saying that the flotilla was "the biggest ever action" to support Taiwan's sovereignty over the islands.

CNA said the island chain lies 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan.

Earlier this month, the Japanese government bought the disputed islands -- known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China and Taiwan -- from the Japanese family that owned them for 2.05 billion yen (US$26.2 million).

The move infuriated China.

Protests erupted across dozens of Chinese cities, forcing the closure of a number of Japanese businesses and factories as residents railed against anything representative of Japan or its people.

China says its claim to the islands goes back hundreds of years. Japan says it saw no trace of Chinese control of the islands in an 1885 survey, so formally recognized them as Japanese sovereign territory in 1895.

Japan then sold the islands in 1932 to descendants of the original settlers. The Japanese surrender at the end of World War II in 1945 only served to cloud the issue further.

The islands were administered by the U.S. occupation force after the war. But in 1972, Washington returned them to Japan as part of its withdrawal from Okinawa.

Self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province, also argues it has sovereignty over the islands.-Cable News Network (September 25, 2012 0459GMT)

No comments: