Dialogue agreed as fishing season starts
Officials from China, Japan promote talks over presence of ships
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.