Taipei, Dec. 2 （CNA）Taiwan and Japan on Monday held their annual dialogue on maritime cooperation in Taipei, focusing on such topics as maritime safety, scientific research, ocean environment protection and fisheries cooperation.The fourth Taiwan-Japan dialogue on maritime affairs cooperation was held at the Grand Hotel and co-chaired by Chiou I-jen, head of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association (TJRA), and Ohashi Mitsuo, Chairman of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA).The dialogue is one of the many cooperation mechanisms between Taiwan and Japan, which are built on friendship and trust over the years, to protect the interests of both the Taiwanese and Japanese people, Chiou said.However, there are still issues that need to be ironed out, Chiou noted, adding that he hoped such issues could be resolved by respecting the basic positions of each country and through mutual understanding. He did not elaborate.Meanwhile, Ohashi said Japan and Taiwan have been conducting constructive discussions since October 2016 when the first Taiwan-Japan dialogue on maritime affairs cooperation was held.All issues can be resolved by giving due consideration to the overall picture, he added.A closed-door session was held after the opening ceremony.Discussions are expected on maritime safety, scientific research, ocean waste management and fisheries cooperation, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Joanne Ou.Taiwan's delegation is composed of officials from TJRA, MOFA, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ocean Affairs Council, Coast Guard Administration, National Academy of Marine Research, and Council of Agriculture, she said.The Japan side is represented by officials from JTEA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan Coast Guard, Fisheries Agency, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Ou said.The dialogue mechanism was first proposed in the wake of a fisheries dispute in waters near the Japan-controlled Okinotori Atoll in 2016. Japan detained a Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Tung Sheng Chi No. 16, on April 25 that year near the atoll, prompting a strong protest from the then Kuomintang (KMT) administration.Japan considers Okinotori to be an island which entitles it to a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone. However, China, South Korea and Taiwan argue that the sea feature does not meet the requirements of an island under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and therefore Japan does not enjoy the exclusive rights to exploit resources within the 200 nautical mile area.The first meeting between Taiwan and Japan under this mechanism was held in October 2016 in Tokyo, with each country agreeing to take turns hosting future gatherings.Memoranda of understanding on search and rescue missions, anti-smuggling work and scientific research were signed at two successive meetings.However, according to a MOFA source, no agreement is expected to be signed this year.
Chiou I-jen (left), head of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association (TJRA), and Ohashi Mitsuo, Chairman of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA)./Photo courtesy of CNA
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