Taiwan protests to Japan over fishing boat seizure

Taipei - Taiwan protested to Japan after one of the island's fishing boats was seized early Monday in an area where Tokyo claims exclusive economic rights.

The 50-tonne "Tung Sheng Chi 16" was chased for hours by a Japanese boat and finally seized 150 nautical miles off Okinotori-shima, an atoll administered by Japan.

"As the water around Okinotori-shima is disputed, Japan's seizure of the Taiwanese fishing boat is unacceptable," said Taiwan's foreign ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang.

"We've filed a solemn protest to Japan, demanding the release as soon as possible of the ship and its crew."

In addition to the Taiwanese skipper, one Chinese and eight Indonesian sailors are among the crew, according to Taiwan's Fisheries Agency.

Okinotori-shima is an uninhabited atoll in the Philippine Sea which is mostly submerged at low tide.

Japan has claimed an exclusive economic zone across a wide stretch of water surrounding the atoll. Although rejected by China and South Korea, neither country has made its own claim.