Okinawa fishermen protest to the Government over agreement with Taiwan on fishing rights

Okinawa fishermen protest to the Government over agreement with Taiwan on fishing rights

On April 12, at the Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Shinko Kuniyoshi (second from right), chairman of Okinawa Prefecture Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations and other delegation members from Okinawa met Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi (right) to protest against the fishing rights agreement between Japan and Taiwan.

April 13, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 12, after Japan and Taiwan had signed a fishing agreement, delegation members from Okinawa, including Okinawa Vice-Governor Kurayoshi Takara, Shinko Kuniyoshi, the chairman of Okinawa Prefecture Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, and Hiroshi Kohagura, the president of the Okinawa Fisheries Cooperative, met Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, and handed him a protest letter from the Governor of Okinawa. They voiced strong concerns about the Japanese government having recognized fishing rights for Taiwanese fishermen in the waters around Okinawa, including the Senkaku Islands. They stated that competition with Taiwanese fishing vessels will intensify and good fishing areas for Okinawan fishermen will shrink as a result.

According to the vice-governor and other members of the delegation, Minister Hayashi commented that he wanted to hear details of what the local people think.
The Okinawa Prefectural Government will ask the central government to resolve the issue after compiling information on the opinion of fishermen about protecting the interests of the fishing industry. At a press conference held on April 11, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated, “We want to respond in a responsible manner if the fishermen experience a decline in their catch because of the agreement.” Government compensation will be an issue to discuss in future.

“Fishermen are angry because the government ignored their opinion,” said Kuniyoshi, and added, “The governments need to create rules between Japan and Taiwan to ensure safe operations.” He also commented that he will pay close attention to ongoing negotiations between the governments. That morning, the vice-governor visited the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office Kazuhiro Sugita to request that he resolve the issue. That afternoon, the vice-governor, Kuniyoshi and Kohagura were briefed on the relevant background information by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Minoru Kiuchi, who explained that the agreement was reached without an explanation to the local people. He said, “There were details that we could not disclose because there were matters for negotiation.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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