Taiwanese demonstrate against Japan for sinking boat

Angry Taiwanese demonstrated outside Japan's de facto embassy in Taipei Thursday, as elected officials demanded that warships equipped with missiles be sent to uphold Taiwan's territorial claim over disputed islands in the East China Sea, reported dpa.

The latest flare of anti-Japanese sentiment came after the sinking of a Taiwanese boat Tuesday by the Japanese coast guard near Diaoyu Islands, which are claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China.

Unfurling banners marking "Diaoyu Islands belongs to us," "Protest against Japan's violence and (Taiwan) government's inaction," the demonstrators tore off their paper-made Japanese flags and hurled them at the Japanese office building.

"Japan should never have used the armed vessel to ram into a small fishing boat. Such an act of violence is intolerable to the world. At this moment, we can't tolerate the central government doing nothing," said Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei.

"The central government must declare our sovereignty claim and protect our fishermen," said Chou, a ruling Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT) member.

He said he would make a formal request for the parliament and Cabinet to approve "the dispatch of our navy fleet to Diaoyu Islands to declare our sovereignty claim, like what the Japanese have done."

Both ruling and opposition parliamentarians Thursday also demanded immediate action from the government to protect the rights of Taiwanese fishermen and uphold Taiwan's claim over the disputed islands, a rich fishing ground.

"The defense minister must have the warships and missiles ready to sail to Diaoyu Islands to protect our fishermen and prepare to fight," said KMT lawmaker Lin Yu-fang.

Another KMT legislator, Shuai Hua-min, urged military authorities to turn the uninhabited Diaoyu Islands into an air force test-firing zone.

Opposition lawmakers demanded that President Ma Ying-jeou get tough in dealing with Japan over the sinking of the Taiwanese boat.

The boat was chased by a Japanese coast guard vessel Tuesday when it sailed into waters 10 kilometers south of Diaoyu, called the Senkaku islands by the Japanese. The small vessel with 16 people on board sank as a result of the collision.

Japan delivered 13 fishermen rescued after the sinking to a Taiwanese coast guard vessel Wednesday, but held the three crewmen. It released two crewmen Thursday, but continued to hold the captain.

Taiwan's foreign ministry demanded Tuesday that Japan treat the crewmen properly and send them back as soon as possible. It also expressed concern over the coast guard's action that resulted in the sinking of the Taiwanese boat.

Taiwan and Japan do not have official diplomatic relations.

The ministry said both Japan and Taiwan sides would investigate the incident separately.

Shortly after the sinking on Tuesday, Beijing, China's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Kang also expressed grave concern over the incident.

"We are extremely dissatisfied with what the Japanese coast guard did to the boat of China's Taiwan province," he was quoted as saying by Chinese state media Xinhua news agency.

He demanded that Japan stop its "illegal activity" in patrolling near Diaoyu islands, which he said belong to China. Beijing insists that Taiwan is a Chinese province despite the fact that the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.

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