Activists protest outside de facto Japan embassy
By Joseph Yeh,The China Post
February 21, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Activists staged a protest in front of the Japanese representative office in Taipei yesterday, demanding Tokyo pay compensation for their damaged vessel following a face-off with Japanese coast guard ships near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands last month.
Yelling slogans in front of the Japan Interchange Association (JIA) Taipei office, the de facto Japan embassy in Taipei, the group of activists, led by Chinese Association for Protecting the Diaoyutais (中華保釣協會) Chairman Hsieh Mang-lin (謝夢麟), told local media that their fishing vessel, the Chuan Chia Fu (全家福), was seriously damaged during the Jan. 24 incident.
The damage was caused by water cannon fired by the Japanese coast guard during the standoff, Hsieh said. He estimated that the repairs could cost several million New Taiwan dollars.
The activists later moved on to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (MOFA) headquarters in Taipei, calling for the ministry's assistance to ask for Tokyo to pay for the vessel's repair.
In return, an official surnamed Chang at MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs received the complaint letter from the activists, pledging that the ministry will offer all necessary assistance to meet their needs.
Chang reiterated the nation's claim over the island chain, adding that the government will not back down on its sovereignty claim.
President Ma Ying-jeou repeatedly said the government will escort Taiwanese fishing boats operating in the disputed area, Chang said. He promised to convey the protesters' request to Japanese side.
The Chuan Chia Fu fishing boat, with Hsieh and activists onboard, sailed to the Diaoyutais on Jan. 24. under the escort of the Taiwan Coast Guard.
They were planning to install a statue of Mazu (媽祖) on one of the islands in the hope that the Taoist sea goddess would protect the safety of Taiwanese fishermen operating in the area.
But they did not set foot on the islands and returned to Taiwan following a brief standoff with Japanese boats.