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Taiwan, Japan to hold preparatory meet for fishery talks soon: MOFA

A preparatory meeting for the long-stalled next round of Taiwan-Japan fishery talks will be held in Tokyo soon, with fishing boundaries around the disputed Diaoyutai Islands to top the agenda, a senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), deputy director-general of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, confirmed the talks' location as Tokyo, but refused to confirm its date.

Some media reports have claimed the talks are set for Friday, Nov. 30.

“Both sides have agreed to announce the date for the preparatory meeting only one day before it takes place,” Su said.

The main focus of the meeting will be on establishing fishing areas near waters off the East China Sea's disputed Diaoyutais, Su said.

Another issue set to be touched on in the meeting is the management of fishery resources in the region, he noted.

Taiwan has for years hoped to forge a consensus with Japan on settling the fishery disputes that frequently occur in the region, where Taiwanese fishing boats are often harassed by Japanese coast guard vessels.

Noting that the 16 previous rounds of fishery talks have all failed to deliver concrete results, Su expressed hope that the upcoming round will see tangible progress made.

He added that more than one preparatory meeting will be needed to gradually resolve disputes in waters near the island chain, which is known as the Senkakus in Japan.

Su said Taiwan aims to handle the fishing rights issue in the same vein as cross-strait ties, in which both sides address difficult issues before holding a formal round of talks to sign an agreement.

Talks between the two sides on fishing rights in their overlapping territorial claims have been stalled since 2009.

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