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Taiwan fishermen protest seizure of boat by Japan

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Well is 150 miles north of that Island Japan? If not return their boats and pay them the 50k as an apology. If it is Japan then you guys should a stayed out. Then again Japan needs friends like Taiwan. I wish we wouldn't make more enemies

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Okinotorishima doesn't qualify for island status according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which Japan has signed.

The "island" is a table top sized coral atoll which cannot sustain human habitation on it's own, hence doesn't attract an EEZ status(Exclusive Economic Zone) allowing it to claim territoriality over an area of 200 nautical miles radius from it's shoreline.

But Japan claims otherwise and has been aggressively concreting for decades. That the atoll belongs to Japan is not in dispute, but as an uninhabitable atoll it can only claim status as a national territory, affording it a zone with a 12 mile radius (I think - I stand to be corrected).

Regardless, the Taiwanese boat was not in internationally recognized Japanese territory.

One reason Japan has not joined the public fray with China over it's development of reefs in the south china sea, is that it would attract attention to it's similar development of Okinotorishima. Also US is reluctant to comment because it views the sea / zone around Okinotori as militarily valuable aiding in denying access to China.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

@thepersoniamnow... well considering that 150 nautical miles are 50 nautical miles less than the 200 nautical miles than UNCLOS defines as Exclusive Economic Zones. There is a high provability that the seizure of the boat and subsequent bond requirement are valid.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Have Taiwan take it to ICJ.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

@browny1

Agreed; and yes 12 miles is the correct limit for territorial waters

@Daniel neagari

considering that 150 nautical miles are 50 nautical miles less than the 200 nautical miles than UNCLOS defines as Exclusive Economic Zones. There is a high provability that the seizure of the boat and subsequent bond requirement are valid.

Only if Okinotorishima actually qualifies for an EEZ, and if you look at the requirements under UNCLOS it does not appear to do so. As a feature which is submerged at high tide, it grants 12-mile territorial waters but not a 200-mile EEZ. I'm with the Taiwanese on this one.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I am on Taiwan's side on this one, okinotorishima is in no way shape or form a shima(island), not by a long shot.

It is an area of a few really TINY atolls, that are at times barley visible, look online you can find pictures.

Japan has build 3 of them so the barely break the waters surface at times & also build a small platform on stilts

In no way shape or form are any of these remotely close to being islands.

Japan should apologize & give the captain his $$$$ back.

Japan should know better than to take plays out of China's playbook, for shame!!!

11 ( +12 / -1 )

As far as I am concerned.. true is that the island.. is not an island and is barely above water...

The problem is that the Island (lets call it so for conversation's sake) has not only economic value but more precisely strategical military value for Japan and the US (may be Taiwan too) if that island disappears, China could and will exploit that hole and take control of that area.

What is the difference between Japan and China? Japan is defensively and strategically bonded to the US making it an ally in order to defend the mutual interest that exist in that area.

The way I see it is not as simple as to say "just drop it that is not an island"... but more in the order "this is an important stronghold"

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Japan playing the China card

5 ( +9 / -4 )

@ Daniel

No-one is saying that Japan should 'drop' Okinotorishima, or disputing that it is a Japanese territory. It is. The issue is whether it grants Japan 200 mile exclusive economic rights, and according to UNCLOS it does not. That fact doesn't create a hole for China to fill.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Daniel NeagariAPR. 27, 2016 - 05:19PM JST

As far as I am concerned.. true is that the island.. is not an island and is barely above water...

The island is above water all year around.

There is no dispute about Japanese sovereignty of Okinotorishima. Both Taiwan and China admit Japanese sovereignty.

If Taiwan or PRC really wants to make trouble with Japan, it may argue that Okinotorishima is not an island. But what can it gain by that? Nothing.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Taiwan is the friendliest country with Japan,Taiwanese are the friendliest people with Japanese.Japan shouldn't treat them like that This time I said Japan ,you are wrong.!!

9 ( +10 / -1 )

This is playing very poorly in Taiwan. When 311 quake tsunami struck, Taiwanese people dug deep into their own pockets and donated more money for relief efforts than any other nation. And this is how cold hearted Japan treats the country now, demanding a ransom on the high seas? what a way to treat a friend. Taiwanese people are crying (foul) today. Terrible move on Japan part.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

While Japan's EEZ claims are certainly dubious, we don't know exactly where this ship had been, only that it was seized 150nm off Okinotorishima after a few hours of being chased.

http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/japan-releases-taiwan-fishing-boat-after-row

Let's also not lose sight of the fact that these Chinese fisherman are the scourge of the oceans. Many Taiwanese ships are out there shark finning and engaging in fishing that would otherwise be illegal if they weren't in international waters. They exploit crews from Southeast Asia who are treated no better than slaves. This particular ship had a crew of 2 Chinese and 8 Indonesians. In any event, most respectable sailors would never try to run away from the Coastguard of any nation under any circumstances, even in international waters. These charming individuals probably don't deserve any of our sympathy.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

The Japanese have no right to claim an exclusive economic zone for Okinotorishima as it is too small to support permanent economic activity and would have disappeared altogether were it not for the building of a concrete protection layer around it.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the Chinese claim EEZs for their own artificial islands in the South China Sea. Will Japan still side with the US, or will they keep quiet, remembering that their own, similar claims are just as invalid?

I think the issue should be adjudicated by the ICJ. Japan can set an example for the Chinese and others on how such disputes should be settled. Although if they lost the Japanese would doubtless withdraw from ICJ jurisdiction in a sulk, just as they did when they lost the whaling case.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I don't think the atoll should warrant an EEZ although I'm not well versed when it comes to this issue.

Although if they lost the Japanese would doubtless withdraw from ICJ jurisdiction in a sulk, just as they did when they lost the whaling case.

Do you have any links for this?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@CH3CHO

The island is above water all year around

My understanding is that without the concrete structures the reef would be submerged at high tide, and therefore not above water all year round - which means that under UNCLOS it doesn't qualify for an EEZ.

There is no dispute about Japanese sovereignty of Okinotorishima.

Absolutely true. There is no territorial dispute and Japan has 12-mile territorial waters.

If Taiwan or PRC really wants to make trouble with Japan, it may argue that Okinotorishima is not an island. But what can it gain by that? Nothing.

That is exactly what the argument is, though I don't see PRC making it - probably because they are planning to declare some invalid EEZs of their own.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No the concrete Breakwaters structures are only there so to protect the present island from further erosion above the water. The island itself is intact in it's natural formation with no artificial alternation.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Yes but the point is that aside from the concrete, it is submerged at high tide and therefore grants no EEZ rights. The concrete is there to prevent it from becoming fully submerged - an event that would mean it ceased even to grant territorial waters.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okinotorishima#/media/File%3AOkinotorishima.gif

Not an island.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Nope it is 1meter above high tide at full time, that is the truth, the one point you are not willing to admit.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

It goes to show the hypocrisy every time Japan says something about China's maritime stuff.

What is the difference between Japan and China? Japan is defensively and strategically bonded to the US making it an ally in order to defend the mutual interest that exist in that area.

And being an ally with the US makes it right or justified? Typical smug attitude.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Triring, it's not a case of what I will or won't admit, it's a case of that being what I understand from everything I've read and seen. I'm quite prepared to admit what you say is correct if there is evidence proving it so; I really don't care at all if Japan gets an EEZ there or not, but the available evidence suggests that it shouldn't. I do however think that it's pretty outrageous (not to mention stupid) for Japan to detain a Taiwanese vessel for breaching an EEZ that hasn't been proven as valid or accepted by anyone else.

(A further point is that EEZs aren't determined solely by whether a feature remains above water at high tide - there is also the stipulation that it must be able to support human life, which Okinotorishima blatantly is not)

1 ( +3 / -2 )

A 1997 fisheries agreement allows both sides’ fishermen to operate free of regulation around the islands. So it’s not clear why the Japanese coast guard needed to stop the Chinese boat.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Adjoin, it was NOT a PRC ship, it was a ROCK ship. TAiwanese are NOT Chinese nationals. Please remember.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Roc.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

YoshitsuneAPR. 27, 2016 - 09:51PM JST

My understanding is that without the concrete structures the reef would be submerged at high tide,

So your argument is based only on your assumption. What is worse, your assumption is wrong.

The fact is the islands are above water even at high tide.

ScroteAPR. 27, 2016 - 09:02PM JST

It will be interesting to see what happens when the Chinese claim EEZs for their own artificial islands in the South China Sea.

An artificial island cannot be a territory, let alone a base for EEZ. You are just confusing two different issues.

sfjp330APR. 28, 2016 - 05:19AM JST

A 1997 fisheries agreement allows both sides’ fishermen to operate free of regulation around the islands. So it’s not clear why the Japanese coast guard needed to stop the Chinese boat.

The 1997 agreement between PRC and Japan allows fishing without permission around the Senkakus. The Senkakus has nothing to do with Okinotorishima.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Okinotorishima comprises rocks, not islands, that are unable to sustain human life and should not, therefore, be used by Japan to expand its EEZ.

The UN convention on the law of the sea defines an island as “a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide”. The convention states that “rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone”.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

CH3cho, Tiring

You two really need to check out the definition of what an island is, Okinotori is NOT NOT NOT anywhere near being an island by a long shot.

Japan is looking pretty STUPID detaining this vessel & looking the fool.

Another embarrassing day to be living in Japan sadly

2 ( +3 / -1 )

sfjp330

With advance in technology, you can live off any land if you put your will into it. Potable water can be obtained from the sea and food can be caught by fishing. Basically it does not say products cannot be imported and the people living there cannot be employed by the government.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Triring APR. 28, 2016 - 10:34AM JST With advance in technology, you can live off any land if you put your will into it. Potable water can be obtained from the sea and food can be caught by fishing. Basically it does not say products cannot be imported and the people living there cannot be employed by the government.

By your definition China could do the same as Japan to thousands of rocks in South China Seas and call it islands.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The problem with PRC claim is that they have absolutely no proof that they had historically administrated the region and UNCLOS are specific about artificial/reclaimed land.

Even the reefs that were said to be above high tides are now cemented over so their claim cannot be confirmed to true unlike Okinotorishima.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

14

browny1Apr. 27, 2016 - 04:10PM JST

Okinotorishima doesn't qualify for island status according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which Japan has signed.

The "island" is a table top sized coral atoll which cannot sustain human habitation on it's own, hence doesn't attract an EEZ status(Exclusive Economic Zone) allowing it to claim territoriality over an area of 200 nautical miles radius from it's shoreline."

Whether Okinotorishima is an island or not is a matter of dispute and is under consideration by the UN Commission on The Limits of the Continental Shelf. Until such time it rules it is Japan's EEZ and it was perfectly legal to arrest the Taiwanese fishing boat, or any foreign fishing boat.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Why Japanese people, why you like make enemy with every1 why...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@CH3CHO

So your argument is based only on your assumption. What is worse, your assumption is wrong.

No, it's not based on my assumption. It's based on all of the evidence that I've seen.

The fact is the islands are above water even at high tide.

You say your 'facts' are correct but mine are assumptions? If you want to convince me that your facts are correct and the others I've read are incorrect I'm going to need more than your say-so. From where do you get your 'facts'?

@triting

With advance in technology, you can live off any land if you put your will into it.

Okininotorishima isnt even land though, it's a coral reef! Have you actually seen pictures of it? I provided a link to one in my earlier reply to you. There is clearly no island there.

their claim cannot be confirmed to true unlike Okinotorishima.

Has the Okinotorishima claim been confirmed as true? By whom? When?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Yoshitsune

Okininotorishima isnt even land though, it's a coral reef! Have you actually seen pictures of it?

If you look at a current photo of Okininotorishima you will see three things; the completely submerged atoll that surrounds the area, the man-made buildings propped up on stilts, and 3 circular man-made structures ringed with rocks and encased in concrete. The actual 'islands' (which are above sea level at high tide) are to be found within these concrete structures which protect them. You can't actually see the islands from the air anymore.

The heart of the problem here is the way UNCLOS is drafted. Article 121 says:

An island is a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide.

It goes on to say:

Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

So is Okininotorishima a rock or an island? Is there a difference? Japan's argument is a). that Okininotorishima meets the definition of an island and b). the human habitation and economic life condition only applies to rocks... (whatever the definition of a rock might be)

One thing everyone agrees on is that UNCLOS is very poorly drafted.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

As sfjp330 quoted, Okinotorishima is an island because it is above water at high tide.

http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf

Article 121

1 An island is a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide

3 Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

UNCLOS contains the word "rock" 6 times in its text. 5 of them clearly mean a rock under water. The remaining is the article 121 paragraph 3 above. So, it is natural to interpret that "rock" means underwater soil, whereas island means any piece of naturally formed land above water at high tide.

Okinotorishima is an island because it is above water at high tide. The question is if it is an island and a rock at the same time, or if it is an island and is not a rock by virtue of being an island.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@M3

which are above sea level at high tide

Are they? Do you have a source for that? Everything I have read states otherwise.

@CH3

I don't need a link to the text of UNCLOS, I need a link to show that this:

Okinotorishima is an island because it is above water at high tide

Is accurate.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Yoshitsune

Are they? Do you have a source for that? Everything I have read states otherwise.

I hope the University of Tokyo is a reputable enough source. They say that the islands are above sea level at high tide but might be submerged by the middle of the century if the predicted sea level rise occurs.

http://www.oa.u-tokyo.ac.jp/learnocean/researchers/okinotori/post-10.html

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

CH3 - I believe nitpicking over the definition of what is a rock, is not what was intended by the original law - article 121.

I assume they never imagined countries arguing over rock or coral, and that the spirit of the law was that uninhabitable outcrops in the sea can not draw a 200 nautical mile eez.

As in Portia's "pound of flesh" , I doubt that the Japanese govts view would hold up well in international court.

And giving legitimacy to okinotori's status as an island must be comforting to China's claims in the south china sea.

Simply as stated a myriad of times, okinotorishima is Japanese territory and has a 12 nautical mile surrounding zone. Just nonsense to suggest otherwise that a tiny outcrop of a few sqmtrs,can claim 100,000s of sqkm of ocean as soveriegn territory.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@M3,

Thank you for the link. I've actually just discovered that the Wikipedia page now contains detailed information on the rocks and how far they protrude - it either didn't when I read it before, or I somehow missed that paragraph. Here are the relevant details:

"At high tide, one area of the reefs is 1.58 square meters (17.0 square feet), roughly the size of a twin bed, and pokes just 7.4 centimetres (2.9 inches) out of the ocean. The other is 7.86 square meters (84.6 square feet), the size of a small bedroom, and rises 16 centimetres (6.3 inches), about twice as high"

While I stand corrected on whether or not these rocks are submerged at high tide, given that they only protrude 7.4 cm and 16 cm above sea level, and are the size of a small bedroom, they are still only rocks. The UK attempted and failed to claim an EEZ around Rockall, which is far, far larger (to those not familiar, that's where Luke Skywalker was hiding); this claim of Japan's should probably be determined by the ICJ - and it seems to me that according to UNCLOS the ruling would be territorial waters but no EEZ.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Thanks to all for the information. It is/was very informative and enjoyable. Very interesting topic, indeed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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