On 10 June 2008, the SS Lien Ho set off from Taiwan. On board were 16
crew and deep-sea fishermen. It was set to fish the rich waters near
what the crew would have called the Diaoyutai islands – a set of islets
claimed by Japan, Taiwan and China. At some point in its operation, the
fishing vessel came into contest with a Japanese coastguard frigate
attempting to repel what it considered an intruder. The two collided,
the 270-ton fishing boat sank – but the crew was rescued.
For years now, fishing off these disputed islands has been no easy
task. But surprisingly, amid the tension, concord was recently reached.
Alan Romberg, director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center in
the United States, described the accord as a significant step toward
maintaining peace. By giving access to long-blocked fishing grounds, the
arrangement “removes the incentive for [Taiwanese fishermen] to engage
in demonstration flotillas … which could be quite dangerous,” he told
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