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Japan's air defense zone request confirmed

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has been notified by Japan about a request to re-draw the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over Japan's Yonaguni lsland just to the east of Taiwan, the west side of which falls under Taiwan's jurisdiction, a MOFA official said Thursday.

“The Foreign Ministry contacted the national defense and transportation ministries immediately after receiving the request from Japan's Interchange Association,” MOFA deputy spokesman James Chang told a news conference.

Japan's Interchange Association serves as the de facto Japanese embassy in Taiwan due to a lack of formal diplomatic relations between the two sides.

“The three ministries have been assessing how to respond to the issue and will give a clear explanation to the public after they have come to a decision,” Chang said.

Echoing Chang's remarks, Vice Minister of National Defense Chao Shih-chang told lawmakers at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan's foreign affairs and national defense committee that “all parties concerned have been studying the issue carefully” and that “Taiwan's safety and national interests will not be compromised.”

Legislator Chang Hsien-yao of the ruling Kuomintang said the Ministry of National Defense should firmly turn down Japan's request for the sake of Taiwan's own national defense needs.

Japan's Senkei Shinbum newspaper reported that same day that Tokyo has in principle decided to re-draw its ADIZ for Yonaguni Island by moving the zone westward in mid-June. According to the report, the Japanese government thinks the move should meet with Taiwan's understanding.

Yonaguni is Japan's westernmost territory and lies 108 kilometers from Taiwan's east coast. At present, the western two-thirds of the island falls under Taiwan's ADIZ.

An ADIZ differs from a flight information zone in that any aircraft using the airspace needs to obtain advance approval of due authority. Unapproved flights can be viewed as an incursion.

Meanwhile, in view of the escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula, the Defense Ministry has also formed a special ad hoc group to monitor the situation there, Chao said.

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