The 40 or so Taiwanese fishing boats that entered Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands this morning have now been driven away as the Japan Coast Guard has resorted to using water canons. The last week or so has been filled with similar repeated intrusions from Chinese patrol ships, attempting to maintain their rights over what they call the Diaoyu Islands, but this has been the first large-scale protest over the territory from Taiwan. Nearly 70 ships were reported to have set sail on Monday in order to protect what Taiwanese fishermen say are valuable waters for their industry.
Osamu Fujimura, the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, stated on Monday afternoon that while he wants to resolve the issue peacefully, the vessels from Taiwan did no adhere to the Japan Coast Guard’s warnings, so they measures such as non-lethal water canons in order to make them change course. As of now, all of the fishing boats, as well as the eight Taiwan Coast Guard ships that were accompanying them, have left Japan’s waters. Japanese television broadcaster NHK showed footage of the water fight, with a Taiwanese patrol ship responding to the Japan Coast Guard with water blasts of its own.
Taiwan has been seen as firmly stating its claims over the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, as well as the Japanese government’s purchase of them, yet it has also been careful to maintain its friendly ties and stop short of any kind of hostile action. Tensions have been at their highest, however, with China over the last few weeks, with the Beijing government threatening a military response in order to defend their sovereignty. Officials from both the Japanese and Chinese Foreign Ministries are now meeting in Beijing in order to calm things down.[via Straits Times]