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June 24, 2017

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Ma marks Japan fishery pact anniversary with video

TAIPEI--President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday posted a one-minute video on his Facebook page to mark the first anniversary of a landmark fishing rights agreement between Taiwan and Japan covering their overlapping waters in the East China Sea.

The 60-second video describes the impact of the pact, which gave Taiwanese fishermen an additional 4,530 square kilometers in which they can operate free of Japanese interference.

The president said Japan interfered with the operations of 17 Taiwanese fishing boats in 2012 but has only gone after one Taiwanese fishing boat since the agreement was signed on April 10, 2013.

In addition, the catch of blackfin tuna increased nearly fourfold and the value of the catch grew threefold from the previous year after the deal was signed, according to the video.

Making it possible for Taiwanese fishermen to "operate freely without interference" manifests the government's advocacy of "no backing down on sovereignty in making big progress in fishing rights," Ma said in the video.

He was referring to concerns that Taiwan conceded its sovereignty over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands as the agreement does not apply to the waters within 12 nautical miles of the islands. Waters within 12 nautical miles are seen as a country's territorial waters.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has explained that negotiations on the agreement were focused on how to ensure the rights of Taiwanese fishermen to operate in waters surrounding the Diaoyutais without intervention from Japanese authorities.

The two sides also agreed that the pact would not undermine each other's territorial claims over the islands, the ministry said.

The Diaoyutais, about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, and administered by Japan, are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

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