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Taiwan, Japan to discuss economic zone incident

TAIPEI -- Taiwan will soon discuss with Japan a dispute arising from their overlapping exclusive economic zone claims, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, after a Taiwanese ship was harassed by the Japanese Coast Guard while operating in Taiwan's economic zone.

“We will be in contact with Japan over the issue,” ministry spokesman Steve Hsia said at a press conference.

The statement came days after a survey ship from National Taiwan Ocean University was asked by Japanese authorities to leave Japan's 200-nautical-mile economic zone near Hateruma Island in Okinawa Prefecture.

Hateruma Island is about 120 nautical miles directly east of Yilan County in Taiwan and about 260 nautical miles southwest of the island of Okinawa.

Acknowledging that the ship was in an area where the two countries have overlapping economic zone claims, Hsia said more communication between the two sides was needed.

“We hope that the parties concerned can maintain a rational and controlled attitude because academic work should not be affected by other factors,” he said.

According to media reports, the Taiwanese ship left Keelung on Aug. 3 to survey the impact of Typhoon Saola on the marine biological and ecological system in the northwestern Pacific Ocean off Taiwan's eastern coast.

It was reportedly harassed by the Japanese Coast Guard when surveying the last of nine planned locations, forcing it to cut short its mission and return to Taiwan ahead of schedule.

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