《TAIPEI TIMES 焦點》 Taiwan-Japan relations are a priority: president

2017-03-21 03:00

By Stacy Hsu / Staff reporter

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that her administration has listed Taiwan-Japan relations as a diplomatic priority and is determined to carry them to the next level, as the Executive Yuan approved a proposed name change for the agency handling bilateral ties.

Tsai made the remarks during a meeting at the Presidential Office with representatives of the Taiwanese Association in Japan, an association founded in 1973 of which most members are Taiwanese living in Japan and their spouses.

“‘Taiwan-Japan friendship’ has become a catchphrase nowadays, with the two nations being an important holiday destination for people on both sides,” Tsai said.

The warming ties are evidenced by the record 6 million bilateral visits between the two nations last year, she added.

Further evidence of the two sides’ improving relations is the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association’s decision to change its name from the Interchange Association, Japan, in December, she said.

Tsai said she has defined relations between Taipei and Tokyo as her administration’s diplomatic priority after being sworn in, with the legislature also establishing an exchange association on May 6 last year between the two nations.

“My hope is that with the joint endeavor of the executive and legislative branches of the government, as well as your [members of the Taiwanese Association in Japan’s] concerted efforts in Japan, we can improve Taipei-Tokyo ties,” Tsai said.

Tsai and Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) also received a Japanese delegation headed by Japanese MP Keisuke Suzuki.

Tsai’s speech was followed by the Executive Yuan’s announcement that it had approved the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ plan to rename the Association of East Asian Relations to the “Association of Taiwan-Japan Relations,” to better reflect the organization’s functions.

The Association of East Asian Relations is in charge of handling ties with Japan. Its office in Tokyo changed its name to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan in 1992.

Japan also set up a quasi-official organization, formerly known as the Interchange Association, Japan, to represent its interests in Taipei.