Koichiro Genba, the Japanese foreign minister, has delivered the first official message to Taiwan, regarding territorial disputes in the East China Sea, since Japan officially severed diplomatic relations with the Republic of China in 1972, according to the Taipei-based broadcaster BCC.
A spokesman for the Taiwanese foreign ministry, Steve Shia, said that Japanese officials had accepted the East China Sea Peace Initiative put forward by President Ma Ying-jeou which calls on parties to settle territorial disputes via international law and develop a ‘code of conduct’ for the East China Sea.
From Want China Times:
Professor Ho Szu-shen of Fu Jen Catholic University stated that the concessions made by the Japanese government to Taiwan were only to head off anti-Japanese sentiment from spreading to Taiwan, which was once considered staunchly pro-Japan. It is also a policy aimed at protecting Japanese nationals currently in the country. Ho told Taiwan’s Central News Agency that leaving the territorial issue aside will not help Taiwanese fishermen gain their fishing rights. Japan must recognize that there is a dispute between Taiwan and Japan over the islands before discussing any cooperation, according to Ho. “Japan started the conflict by purchasing those islands, and by now they do not recognize a territorial dispute exists,” stressed Ho.
Tokyo’s move in strengthening relations with Taiwan may be seen as a gambit to avoid greater cooperation between the ROC and the Chinese mainland. Beijing has long sought to deal with territorial claims bilaterally, through which it is able to exert the most pressure on smaller nations, Japan and Taiwan, as well as nations who dispute Chinese claims to the South China Sea, favour multilateral talks.