Taiwan party leader planning to visit Japan

Kyodo

The chairman of Taiwan’s incoming ruling Democratic Progressive Party said Thursday that he plans to visit Japan as soon as President-elect Chen Shui-bian launches his new government.

In an interview, Lin I-hsiung said: “I think I’ll visit Japan after the new president has been inaugurated, time permitting.”

Chen will be inaugurated as the island’s second democratically elected president on May 20, succeeding Lee Teng-hui of the Nationalist Party, which has ruled Taiwan for more than half a century.

Noting that no final decision has been made on the visit, Lin, who visited the United States last year, said the Japan trip might be scheduled for late May or early June.

The trip would be Lin’s first overseas as leader of Taiwan’s ruling party. The last DPP chairman to visit Japan was Hsu Hsin-liang, who left the DPP to run for president as an independent in 1998.

Lin would not comment on Japan’s new government, but said new Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is known to be “quite friendly” toward Taiwan.

Lin said the DPP hopes that any Japanese government will work toward closer bilateral ties between Taiwan and Japan in the absence of diplomatic relations.

He added that Japan should take into account that Taiwan’s people have positive feelings toward the Japanese, despite half a century of colonial occupation that ended in 1945.

“While, of course, making money out of Taiwan, the Japanese also greatly helped Taiwan’s economic development,” he said.

Lin said the islanders were also “very happy” that former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, in contrast to U.S. President Bill Clinton, did not give in to Chinese demands to state the “three Nos” when Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Japan in November 1998.

The three “Nos” are no support for Taiwanese independence, no support for Taiwanese membership to international groups comprised of sovereign states and no support for “one China, one Taiwan.”

Clinton’s commitment to the three “Nos” during a visit to China in summer 1998 was perceived in Taiwan as a shift in U.S. policy in favor of Beijing.

Lin, a longtime democracy activist who was imprisoned for four years during martial law rule, became DPP chairman in May 1998.

After his release from prison, he spent several years abroad, some in Japan, studying politics before returning to Taiwan in 1989.