Dia­logue agreed as fish­ing sea­son starts

Of­fi­cials from China, Ja­pan pro­mote talks over pres­ence of ships

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By LI XIAOKUN lix­i­aokun@chi­nadaly.com.cn

Bei­jing and Tokyo made a pre­lim­i­nary agree­ment on Wed­nes­day that they will dis­cuss the is­sue of a ris­ing num­ber of Chi­nese ships mon­i­tor­ing fish­ing in wa­ters near the Diaoyu Is­lands in the East China Sea.

Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to Ja­pan Cheng Yonghua and Toshi­hiro Nikai, sec­re­tary­gen­eral of Ja­pan’s Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party, reached the agree­ment when they met at the head­quar­ters of the LDP, Ja­pan’s Ky­odo News Agency re­ported.

Nikai told re­porters af­ter the meet­ing that Cheng said there are rich fish­ing re­sources in the sea near the Diaoyu Is­lands, and Chi­nese fish­er­men have “caught a good har­vest”.

Cheng vis­ited the LDP head­quar­ters to con­grat­u­late Nikai on his in­au­gu­ra­tion as sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

“Nikai, who has com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels with high-rank­ing Chi­nese of­fi­cials, is seen as a fig­ure friendly to China,” Ky­odo said.

Ja­pan has been ner­vous about the Chi­nese ships that are ac­com­pa­ny­ing fish­ing ves­sels in that area, warn­ing that re­la­tions were “de­te­ri­o­rat­ing badly”.

Cheng has been sum­moned by the Ja­panese For­eign Min­istry sev­eral times since Aug 5, while Ja­pan has protested to China through var­i­ous chan­nels since then.

The num­ber of Chi­nese coast guard ships around the Diaoyu Is­lands rose to 13 on Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to the Ja­panese coast guard — a record num­ber since China started send­ing ships to the re­gion in Septem­ber 2012 af­ter Ja­pan “na­tion­al­ized” the is­lands.

Cheng re­sponded that it is “nat­u­ral” for the ships to op­er­ate in Chi­nese ter­ri­tory.

Ac­cord­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press, Cheng said on Tues­day that the in­crease in China’s fleet was to over­see the in­creased ac­tiv­ity of Chi­nese fish­ing boats. Fish­ing sea­son in the East China Sea has be­gun since Aug 1.

The Ja­panese coast guard on Thurs­day spot­ted more than 200 Chi­nese fish­ing ships in wa­ters near the Diaoyu Is­lands, where both Chi­nese and Ja­panese fish­ing ships are al­lowed to op­er­ate, ac­cord­ing to an agree­ment be­tween the coun­tries.

Xu Jingbo, bu­reau chief of Ja­pan’s Asia News Agency in Tokyo, said in his blog that Cheng’s re­marks re­vealed that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment ships were ac­tu­ally there to ad­min­is­ter the large num­ber of fish­ing ves­sels that rushed to the East China Sea since the fish­ing sea­son started to avoid in­ci­dents.

“It seems that Ja­pan did not know, or ig­nored, this im­por­tant fact,” Xu said.

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