Okinawan fisheries groups ask government to review Japan-China fisheries pact

Okinawan fisheries groups ask government to review Japan-China fisheries pact

On May 29, at the Foreign Ministry, Okinawa vice Governor Kurayoshi Takara asked Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Minoru Kiuchi (right) to review the Japan-China fisheries pact.


May 30, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On May 29 in Tokyo, Okinawa Vice Governor Kurayoshi Takara and the members of the Okinawa Federations of Fisheries Cooperatives and the Ikema Fisheries Cooperatives asked Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Taku Eto to review the Japan-China fisheries pact. The fishermen said the governments concluded this pact in 1997 without any explanation to the local people before it went into effect in 2000. They suggested that the agreement has led to overfishing of coral reefs and has devastated the habitat of bottom fish.

They asked for the government to review the pact by working with China at the Joint Fisheries Committee meeting to be held June. According to the vice governor, the senior vice minister suggested that the government will take the request from Okinawa into consideration. The area of water below 27 degrees north latitude is not covered by the Japan-China fisheries pact. In the letter sent by the Foreign Minister of Japan to his counterpart of China at that time, Japan agreed that it would not apply the relevant fisheries laws to Chinese fishing boats in that area of water. Okinawan fishermen asked the government to resolve three issues: (i) Rescinding the content of the Foreign Minister’s letter and regulating the Chinese fishing boats working within the area of water (ii) Creating a system to prevent net fishing on coral reefs (iii) Review the area of water included in the Japan-Taiwan fishing pact. Vice Governor Takara commented, “Overfishing of coral reefs is a serious problem that leads to the depletion of the natural resources in the waters around Okinawa. In order to protect the interests of local fishermen, we want the government to negotiate with Beijing and Taipei as an issue of political significance.”

While Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita and Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Minoru Kiuchi commented that they would like to receive on local concerns, they did not mention reviewing the fishery pacts.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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