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April 30, 2017

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100 vessels to sail in island protest

About 100 local fishing vessels from Yilan are set to sail for the Diaoyutai Islands at 3 p.m. from Yilan County today in one of Taiwan's largest-scale sovereignty protests yet over the disputed islands.

Clad in T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "protect fishing rights for survival" on the front and the R.O.C. national flag printed on the back, Yilan fishermen are setting sail to defend their fishing rights in waters near the islands as well as to reinforce Taiwan's sovereignty claim over the islands.

The fishermen plan to assemble 20 nautical miles southwest of the disputed islands at 5 a.m. Tuesday, and circle the islands afterward.

Former Chairman of the Yilan County Longline Fishery Association (宜蘭縣延繩釣協會) Lin Jih-cheng (林日成) said that the fishermen will not set foot on the islands during the protest. The y will, however, sail as close as 12 nautical miles off the island group, Lin said, adding that they will also communicate their concerns about fishing rights to the Japanese government via banners.

Chen Chun-sheng (陳春生), chairman of the Su'ao District Fishermen's Association (蘇澳區漁會), emphasized that the purpose of the operation is to protest Japan's "nationalization" of the island chain and also to advocate the rights of Taiwanese fishermen. The operation was made possible with a NT$5 million donation to subsidize fuel costs, Chen said.

Diaoyutais Activists Protest on Land

Thousands of activists took to the streets of Taipei to rally against Japan's recent "purchase" of three islets in the disputed Diaoyutai chain during the "923 Baodiao Protest March" (923保釣大遊行) at 2:30 p.m. yesterday.

The demonstrators marched from the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to the Interchange Association of Japan in Taipei to deliver a letter of protest against the Japanese government's move to "nationalize" the resource-rich islands in the East China Sea, according to the Central News Agency.

The protesters chanted slogans such as "The Diaoyutais are ours" and called on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to join arms against Japan's sovereignty claim to the territory.

Political parties such as the New Party (新黨) and the People First Party (親民黨) have expressed their support for the protests.

Since Japan moved to "nationalize" the islets on Sept. 11, tensions over the Diaoyutais have rapidly escalated, sparking protests both in Taiwan and mainland China.

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