Taiwan Fishermen Protest Boat Seizure

Taiwan Fishermen Protest Boat Seizure

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Scores of Taiwanese fishermen protested Wednesday outside Japan's representative office in Taiwan to demand an apology over the seizure of one of their fishing boats by the Japanese coast guard.

The fishermen lobbed eggs and clashed briefly with police while delivering a petition at the Interchange Association, which handles relations between the two in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

Taiwan's government has called the boat's seizure Monday about 150 nautical miles (278 kilometers) southeast of Japan's Okinotori islands an illegal act, saying it was fishing in international waters at the time. The uninhabited islands, located more than 1,700 kilometers (1,000 miles) south of Tokyo, consist mostly of partially submerged coral reefs.

The boat owner, Pan Chung-chiu, said he paid a $54,442 bond to secure the release of the Tung Sheng Chi No. 16 and its 10 crew members.

"As a fisherman of (Taiwan) I didn't do anything wrong," said Pan.

At Wednesday's protest, chairman of the National Fishermen's Association Lin Chi-tsang compared the seizure to "pirates asking for a large ransom."

Japan considers the surrounding waters to be its exclusive economic zone, give it rights to fish stocks and other resources in the area. To help maintain that status, it has been shoring up structures built on the reefs.