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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is history repeating itself?

It was an afternoon of tarantula-paralyzing wasps, slithering gray snakes, jumping green grasshoppers and dilapidated Taoist temples in the hills of Hsint'ien 新田 this afternoon.

The Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島 are back in the news again, and the Daily Yomiuri ザ・デイリー読売 has the AP story ("Japan arrests Taiwan captain in disputed waters" http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_JAPAN_TAIWAN_FISHING_BOAT_ASOL-?SITE=YOMIURI&SECTION=HOSTED_ASIA&TEMPLATE=ap_national.html):

"Japan's coast guard has arrested a Taiwanese fishing boat captain who refused an inspection and sparked a six-hour chase through disputed waters in the East China Sea 東シナ海, officials said Monday. Wang Wei-shin, 44, was taken into custody late Sunday on suspicion of illegally fishing and violating Japanese waters near a chain of disputed islands claimed by Japan, Taiwan and China, according to Japan Coast Guard 海上保安庁 spokesman Shinichiro Tanaka. Japanese authorities took Wang to nearby Ishigaki island 石垣島 for questioning after negotiations with Taiwan's coast guard, Tanaka said, adding that a crew member was also being held as a witness. The boat was also carrying nine people Tanaka referred to as 'fishing tourists' and they were released to Taiwanese authorities. Patrol vessels spotted the 50-ton Formosa Chieftain No. 2 just off the northern coast of Japan's Minna island 水納島, a tiny southern island about 110 miles (175 kilometers) southeast of uninhabited disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu 魚釣 in Chinese. 'Had the skipper stopped his boat at our request, the case wouldn't have become such a big deal, and he might not even have to be arrested,' Tanaka said. In T'aipei (Taihoku) 台北, a Taiwan Coast Guard Administration 海岸巡防署 official acknowledged that the fishing boat ventured into disputed waters and tried to head back to Taiwanese waters after being spotted by Japanese personnel. Taiwan's Foreign Ministry 中華民国外交部 Spokesman Henry Chen said his ministry planned to offer the captain assistance and 'negotiate with Japan on the matter.'"

A Taiwanese fisherman is caught fishing where he knows he shouldn't, tries to make a run for it, and gets caught, sparking an international incident. At least this time the boat wasn't sunk. It should be interesting to see how the new cabinet led by Wu Den-yih (Go Tongi) 呉敦義, handles this matter. The last one, under Liu Chao-shuan (Ryū Chōgen) 劉兆玄 , did a pretty inept job of things, going so far as to threaten war. More rational heads hopefully will prevail this time.

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