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Okinawa governor urges review of Japan-Taiwan fishery accord


Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima on Thursday called on the central government to review the signing earlier this month of a fishery accord with Taiwan, saying that it was struck without due consideration of local views.

"I feel extreme indignation" about the pact, which was signed without regard to the wishes of the local fishery industries, Nakaima said in his meeting with Ichita Yamamoto, state minister in charge of issues related to Okinawa.

Yamamoto said he took the request for a review seriously and will convey it to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yoshimasa Hayashi and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

Locals have raised concerns that the accord could result in a decrease in tuna catches among local fishermen and run-ins with Taiwanese fishermen.

"The area in question is where we have large tuna catches worth billions of yen," Nakaima told Kishida during their meeting afterward. The accord, he said, is a "question of life or death for the fisheries industry."

During a meeting also with Hayashi, the governor requested that Okinawa officials be allowed at meetings of a Japan-Taiwan fisheries committee where the two sides discuss concrete catches and fishing rules. The minister told Nakaima he will consider the request, according to the governor.

Japan and Taiwan signed the accord on April 10 to allow fishing boats from Taiwan to operate in part of Japan's exclusive economic zone around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The waters are known to be good fishing grounds for tuna.

The agreement was signed despite a territorial row over the Senkakus, which Taiwan calls the Tiaoyutai Islands. The islets are also claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.

Government sources said Tokyo compromised in the fisheries talks, which date back to 1996, mainly to prevent Taiwan from forming a united front with China against Japan.

On Monday, the Okinawa prefectural assembly lodged a protest with the central government over the signing of the accord, while the city assembly of Ishigaki, Okinawa, unanimously approved its own letter of protest. The islands are administered by the city.