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Lawmakers cancel voyage to disputed Tiaoyutai Islands

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang lawmakers are not going on a “protest” voyage to the Tiaoyutai Islands today.

Legislator Lin Yu-fang, convener of the Legislative Yuan defense and foreign relations committee, said yesterday he canceled the plan to go aboard a warship together with his colleagues to show the flag over the disputed waters.

“We decided not to go ahead,after President Ma Ying-jeou and Kuomintang chairman Wu Poh-hsiung had expressed deep concern over our plan,” said Lin, who organized the trip.

A dozen lawmakers are ready to set sail this morning to protest against the ill treatment of the three-man crew of the Lien Ho which sank in a collision with a Japanese maritime safety frigate off the Tiaoyutais on last Tuesday.

“I personally feel,” Lin said, “the Japanese have softened their stance, and that’s another reason why we won’t make the voyage — for the time being.”

A Japanese maritime safety official expressed regret for the incident and willingness to make reparations.

Taipei, however, is not satisfied with the “regret” the Japanese expressed. It wants an apology.

“We’ll see what follows,” Lin said. He did not rule out possibilities that he and his colleagues will take to the sea, if the Tiaoyutai crisis is not solved to their satisfaction.

Chou Hsi-wei, magistrate of Taipei, held a press conference at the Grand Hotel in the afternoon to let the Lien Ho crew talk about the accident.

Ho Hung-yi, the skipper, said his fishing boat was rammed on the right side near the bow by the Japanese frigate Koshiki. “It was a ramming on purpose,” he insisted.

“On behalf of the people of my county,” Chou said, “I protest to the Japanese for their cruel treatment of our fishermen.”

The home port of the fishing boat is Juifang, a township under the jurisdiction of Taiwan’s most populous county Chou governs.

“We want Japan to apologize and make reparation,” Chou told reporters. He promised help to Ho in litigation against the Japanese.

Ho is filing a reparation suit with the Yilan district court. Yilan district prosecutors are also investigating the incident.

They are planning to prosecute the captain of the Koshiki for intrusion into Taiwan’s territorial waters. Japan also claims sovereignty over the eight islets in the East China Sea, which are known as the Senkakus in Japanese.

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