Taiwan, Japan to sign more accords after fishing pact

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan and Japan will sign agreements covering e-commerce and patents in Taipei on Tuesday, in another sign of their closer ties, following a pact over fishing rights in disputed East China Sea waters, officials said.

The five agreements to be signed also include pharmaceutical codes, railway cooperation and maritime and airborne search and rescue.

"They will certainly further broaden and consolidate the ties with Japan," foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao told AFP on Sunday.

The Japanese filed more than 10,000 patent applications with Taiwanese authorities each year, compared with around 3,000 patent applications Taiwan sought with Japan, government figures showed.

But Kao would not comment on local media reports which saw the accords as a prelude to a tax and economic cooperation agreement.

Taiwan and Japan forged a much-anticipated agreement in April, under which Taiwanese trawlers will be permitted to fish in waters off East China Sea islands controlled by Tokyo as the Senkakus but claimed by China and Taiwan as the Diaoyus.

Taiwanese government officials hailed the fishing pact as a milestone in ties with Tokyo, although Beijing voiced concerns over the deal with Taiwan, which it still considers part of its territory.

Talks over fishing rights started in 1996 but were suspended in 2009, before being resumed in November last year.

Under the agreement, Taiwanese fishermen will be able to operate in an overlapping 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone claimed by Taipei, Tokyo and Beijing.

Japan and China have squabbled bitterly over the sovereignty of the islands, with frequent confrontations between state vessels from the two sides since Tokyo nationalised some of the chain in September last year.

The waters around the islands are considered potentially rich in natural resources, and Taiwanese fishermen claim ancestral fishing rights.

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