Taiwanese activists set off on Diaoyu protest voyage
Lawrence Chung in Taipei
A group of Taiwanese activists last night set sail for the disputed Diaoyu Islands to conduct a protest against the Japanese prime minister's latest visit to a controversial war shrine in Tokyo.
'The move is chiefly aimed at protesting against Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine,' said Huang Hsi-lien, an elected deputy of the council of Yungho township in Taipei county.
'It is also aimed at showing our anger and strong dissatisfaction over the Japanese coastguard's long-term suppression of Taiwanese fishermen operating near the Diaoyus, which are part of our territory,' he said before boarding a boat at Shenao port, Taipei county.
Mr Huang said if the trip went according to plan, he and four other activists would sail past the Diaoyus before dawn today.
However, their planned protest could be foiled by the Taiwanese coastguard, which warned that no angling boat could sail more than 24 nautical miles off the island in line with regulations, or the crew would be driven back or fined.
Mr Huang described the regulations as 'absurd' and said Taiwanese people had the right to uphold Taipei's sovereignty over the disputed Diaoyus, which were also claimed by Beijing and Tokyo.
Mr Koizumi sparked angry protests from neighbouring countries on Tuesday by worshipping at the shrine honouring Japan's war dead, including class-A war criminals.