Taiwan, Japan sign MOU on marine debris in maritime talks

Representatives from Taiwan and Japan on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on tackling marine debris during a round of discussions held in Tokyo on maritime affairs.

The MOU was signed by Taiwan-Japan Relations Association Chairman Su Jia-chyuan (???) and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi.

Under the MOU, the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association shall request cooperation from Taiwan’s Ocean Conservation Administration and the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association from relevant agencies under Japan’s Ministry of Environment to push forward exchanges and cooperation on researching techniques for surveying and cleaning marine debris, with the aim of reducing man-made waste in the ocean.

The two associations should be in touch constantly over issues related to marine debris and should exchange the latest information regarding surveying and cleaning techniques to the best of their ability, the MOU states.

Japan and Taiwan have won high acclaim for their work to address maritime affairs under the Global Cooperation and Training (GCTF) Framework which they jointly founded with the U.S. and Australia, Ohashi said in his speech.

The MOU seeks to build on the achievements of the GCTF to deepen the mutually beneficial partnership between Taiwan and Japan while tackling these matters, he added.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan donated face masks and pulse oximeters to Japan, which later donated AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Taiwan, Su said.

This underscored the deep friendship between the two countries, Su said, adding that he believes with sincerity and mutual trust, any unresolved issue would be settled in a way that is mutually advantageous.

In a statement, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that issues covered by this year’s discussions on maritime affairs included cooperation in the fields of marine ecology, maritime security, marine science and fishery.

The two sides also discussed the Okinotori Atoll issue during the meeting but have yet to arrive at a consensus, MOFA said.

The classification of the Japan-held Okinotori Atoll, which Tokyo calls the Okinotori Island, was what prompted the establishment of the dialogue mechanism in 2016 under the two associations in the first place, as it relates to the demarcation of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which substantially overlaps that of Taiwan.

Japan’s Coast Guard in April 2016 seized a Taiwanese fishing boat operating about 277.8km east-southeast of the atoll, which prompted Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration and Council of Agriculture to each dispatch a ship to escort the fishing boats operating in the contested waters.

Although the two sides did not reach a consensus on the Okinotori Atoll dispute during this latest round of discussions, the two sides did agree to continue the dialogue in hopes of furthering cooperation on fishery, according to MOFA.

In addition, they agreed to hold another round of discussions on maritime affairs in Taipei next year, the ministry said.

The dialogue was last held in Taipei in 2019 and has since been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel