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Taiwan reaffirms claim to Diaoyutais as Japan recognizes China row

TAIPEI--Taiwan reiterated its sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands Monday in light of reports of an official admission by Japan that it has a sovereignty dispute with China over the island group in the resource-rich East China Sea.

The government is aware of the Japan-China dispute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Steve Hsia said, reiterating that the Diaoyutais are the territory of the Republic of China, Taiwan's official name.

He noted that Taiwanese fishermen have been fishing in waters near the islands for more than a century.

Hsia's remarks were in response to reports that Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada on Sunday admitted for the first time there exists a dispute between Japan and China over sovereignty of the Diaoyutais.

The uninhabited islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China, lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan. They have been under Japan's control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

Tension over the Diaoyutais flared up after Japan moved to nationalize and strengthen its sovereignty claim over the island chain by buying three of the islets from their private owner on Sept. 11, spurring protests in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

Hsia urged all sides involved in the territorial dispute to seek peaceful resolutions and pursue joint exploration of resources in the region.

Citing recent remarks by Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba on “pending issues” regarding relations between Taiwan and Japan, Hsia said the comments showed that Japan recognizes there are disputes both sides have yet to deal with, such as fishing rights in waters near the Diaoyutais.

Taiwan will continue to communicate with Japan on relevant issues, he added.

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