Diaoyu Islands

DPP's Su Tseng-chang says just Taipei and Tokyo must solve islands row

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 4:56am

Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said the territorial dispute between Taipei and Tokyo over a group of islands in the East China Sea should be resolved by themselves.

DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang wrapped up a controversial visit to Japan on Thursday that included meetings with several Japanese political heavyweights, including Nobuo Kishi, a member of the Japanese House of Councillors and brother of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Taipei-based China Times said on Thursday that Su did not mention the dispute over the Diaoyus - known as the Senkakus in Japan - in those meetings.

But Taiwan's official Central News Agency (CNA) said Su had mentioned the Diaoyu dispute when visiting Taku Yamasaki, the president of a think tank affiliated with Abe's Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday.

He told Yamasaki the dispute should be resolved between Taipei and Tokyo to prevent "any third country making use of every single space".

During his meeting with Kishi, Su said the United States, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan should stand together to form a "democratic alliance" to defend against "any power that would interrupt regional peace or create tension", Taiwanese media reported, adding that Su hinted such an alliance should aim to contain Beijing.

If you give up your sovereignty claim, how could you seek fisheries rights for Taiwanese fishermen?

Su said Taiwan and Tokyo should focus solely on fisheries negotiations and avoid touching on sovereignty issues because it "would harm the stability and peaceful development of the Asian region".

It was the first time Su had publicly expressed his view on the Diaoyus dispute.

An expert on international maritime law based in Xiamen said Su's comments would backfire.

"Su doesn't have any common sense of international law, even though he is a lawyer in Taiwan," said Professor Fu Kuen-chen. "If you give up your sovereignty claim, how could you seek fisheries rights for Taiwanese fishermen?"

In Taipei, DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien said the party "was strongly opposed to Beijing's deliberate provocation" in waters near the Diaoyus, following reports that PLA frigates aimed weapons-targeting radar at a Japanese destroyer and a helicopter last month, CNA reported.

Pro-DPP political commentator Wang Hsing-ching, who is based in Taipei and writes under the name Nan Fang-shuo, said Su and Lin's comments had exposed the DPP's shortcomings in "cross-strait relations and international public affairs".

"I have repeatedly called on the DPP to avoid touching on international affairs, which is not its cup of tea," he said. "Even in former [Taiwanese] president Chen Shui-bian's era, the DPP was always looked down on by their foreign counterparts because the DPP has no talent qualified in this field."