TAIPEI: Japan’s seizure of a Taiwan fishing boat near Okinotori reef in the western Pacific and demand of a security deposit to secure its release violate the spirit of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and infringe upon the rights of Taiwanese fishermen, Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Minister David Y.L. Lin said April 29.
Lin made the remarks after summoning Mikio Numata, head of Interchange Association, Japan—the organization representing the interests of Japan in Taiwan—to protest Tokyo’s actions.
During an hourlong meeting with Numata, Lin called on Japan to refrain from unilaterally expanding its Okinotori reef claim, and to respect the rights of Taiwan and other countries to navigate and fish in the area.
The minister said the 9-square-meter Okinotori reef does not meet the criteria of an island as defined under Article 121 of UNCLOS since it cannot sustain human habitation and economic life of its own.
A reef is only entitled to 12 nautical miles of territorial waters from its baseline, while an island enjoys the rights to a contiguous zone, a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and a continental shelf, according to the UNCLOS. TAIWAN TODAY