Taiwan Seeks Maritime Cooperation with Japan: President Tsai Ing-wen

Taiwan Seeks Maritime Cooperation with Japan: President Tsai Ing-wen

Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The independent-minded President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan seeks maritime cooperation with Japan. In recent times, growing tension about fishing around the Okinotorishima islet is a bane for both Japan and Taiwan because traditionally both nations favor positive relations. Of course, other disputed areas in the outlying Okinawa chain of remote islets continue to cause tensions between China, Japan, and Taiwan respectively. However, in the past, both Japan and Taiwan seek a geopolitical understanding based on the fear of China’s growing encroachment and influence.

Tsai recently broke new ground in Taiwan with being the first female president of Taiwan. Similarly, she is the first president of mixed Hakka and aboriginal descent. Likewise, Tsai believes in equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens of Taiwan.

In the realm of trade, Tsai seeks to diversify Taiwan’s trading partners in order to increase the independence of this nation. Tsai, of course, supports economic trade with China but from strength rather than obligations. In other words, she opposes many aspects of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between China and Taiwan. Therefore, Tsai is focused on utilizing the full strength of Taiwan’s economic power based on open trade and furthering closer ties with other nations – while maintaining strong economic ties with China.


Turning back to maritime cooperation, Tsai seeks to further strengthen dialogue between Japan and Taiwan. She told the Yomiuri Shimbun, “Japan and Taiwan have shared issues and benefits… I want to exchange opinions on a wide range of topics related to the ocean.”

Tsai also told the Yomiuri Shimbun that, “Japan and Taiwan have different positions on this issue, but as president of Taiwan, I am most interested in enabling Taiwan’s fishermen to freely enter and operate in the surrounding waters.”

The president of Taiwan isn’t concerned about bowing to China’s pressure in relation to the “1992 agreement” that specifies the principle of “One China.” Indeed, many of the younger generation seek a new independent spirit that focuses on the differences between Taiwan and China in relation to culture, economics, politics, and other factors.


Tsai seeks to strengthen ties with Japan based on focusing on marine resources, smoothing tensions despite genuine disagreements over Okinotorishima, increasing trade with Japan, and cooperating on new developments with Japan in areas of interest in Asia. The above sounds favorable to the geopolitical objectives of Japan under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Therefore, it is hoped that Abe and Tsai can work together in order to further ties between Japan and Taiwan respectively – and to foster closer ties in relation to research and development projects in Asia.



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