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Japan must work to solve island dispute: ROC envoy

TOKYO -- Japan should respect its bilateral relations with Taiwan and work toward solving the territorial dispute over the Tiaoyutai Islands peacefully, said Taiwan's representative to Japan in an article published Sunday.

The archipelago is an inherent territory of Taiwan and a traditional fishing ground for Taiwanese fishermen, wrote representative Shen Ssu-tsun in the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun.

Shen quoted President Ma Ying-jeou as saying that Taiwan will not align with China on the issue.

Located about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan in the East China Sea, the Tiaoyutais are controlled by Japan but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

Shen also cited Ma's “East China Sea Peace Initiative” that urges relevant parties to put aside their differences, engage in peaceful discussion and cooperate in developing the resources in the disputed region.

Under the initiative, Ma urged all parties to refrain from taking antagonistic actions, avoid controversies, observe international law and resolve disputes via peaceful means, Shen wrote.

Shen, who took office in May for a second term, said he hoped both sides can continue to develop stronger ties through cultural and economic exchanges.

For instance, exhibits from Taiwan's National Palace Museum will be showcased at the Tokyo National Museum in 2014, and Japan's renowned musical performance troupe Takarazuka Revue will perform in Taiwan next April, he said in the article.

Despite the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries, both sides have conducted substantial exchanges in economics and trade, cultural, and tourism since 1972, when official ties were severed, he noted.

Shen concluded by saying the two countries should begin the 17th rounds of talks on fishing rights as early as possible and expand bilateral business cooperation to foster closer and more stable Taiwan-Japan relations.

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