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June 26, 2017

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Over 1,000 rally against Japan in Yilan

Wearing protest T-shirts and chanting slogans like "the Diaoyutais belong to Toucheng" and "Defend the Diaoyutais," more than 1,000 people in northeastern Yilan County's Toucheng Township yesterday staged a street demonstration to assert the nation's sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands and the rights of the country's fishermen to operate in their traditional fishing grounds.

The parade was organized by the Toucheng administrative authorities to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival) — traditionally a time for family reunions — to express hope that the issue can be resolved and that the islands can be "reunited with Taiwan," an official said.

According to the central government, the Diaoyutais fall under the administration of Toucheng Township.

During the parade, protesters carried banners and flags and shouted slogans such as "the Diaoyutais belong to Toucheng" and "Japan should never dream about the Diaoyutais." They also voiced anger over Japan's recent move to "nationalize" the islands.

Strong Support

Toucheng chief Chen Shiou-nuan said the new parade was to show strong support for, and to back up, an earlier protest that saw 75 Taiwanese fishing boats sail to waters near the Diaoyutais. The flotilla garnered wide international media coverage.

Japanese coast guard ships sprayed water at the fishing vessels in a bid to turn them away, prompting a fleet of Taiwanese coast guard ships to fight back by directing their own high-pressure hoses at the Japanese ships.

Japan's "purchase" of three of the islets comprising the Diaoyutais from a private Japanese family has seriously infringed on Taiwan's sovereignty and the legitimate rights of the R.O.C.'s fishermen, Chen added.

Envoy Returning to Tokyo

Taiwan's representative to Japan, Shen Ssu-tsun, who was recalled in protest over the nationalization move, is expected to return to his post in Tokyo in a week, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Shen will probably return to his office in Japan before Oct. 5, the day the representative office there is scheduled to host a celebration for the R.O.C.'s Oct. 10 National Day.

Shen, who returned home Sept. 12 at the instruction of the ministry in response to Japan's bid to purchase the islands, was scheduled to present another report at the Legislative Yuan today on the dispute and on Taiwan-Japan ties in general.

Ministry spokesman Steve Hsia, however, said that the exact date of Shen's return to Japan has not been decided and that it will be up to the new foreign minister, David Y.L. Lin, to decide.

Opinions from legislators following Shen's report will also be taken into account when deciding upon the precise date of his return, Hsia said.

Tensions over the islands have mounted after Japan announced in September that it had completed a planned purchase of some of the islands, prompting Taiwan to recall its envoy to Tokyo.

The escalation of the territorial dispute has also triggered mass and extensive protests in China against Japan.

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