Taiwan gives green light to museum exhibitions in Japan

Kyodo

An exhibition of ancient Chinese treasures from Taiwan’s National Palace Museum scheduled to open in Tokyo on Tuesday will go ahead as planned after Tokyo corrected posters and other promotional materials omitting the word “national” in reference to the museum.

A spokesman from the Taiwanese museum, Chin Shih-hsien, told Kyodo News over the telephone that the Director Feng Ming-chu and the museum delegation left for Japan on Monday morning to attend the opening ceremony scheduled for the afternoon on the same day. The exhibit will open to the public from Tuesday

“The Tokyo National Museum owes the (Taiwanese) people an apology,” the museum said in a statement.

Taiwan’s first lady Chow Mei-ching, who was also scheduled to attend the opening ceremony, has postponed her visit to Japan.

Controversy surfaced Friday after the Taiwan Presidential Office issued a statement of protest warning that the exhibition would be canceled unless the Japanese organizers took steps to call the Taiwan museum by its official name.

More than 200 of the museum’s rare cultural relics have been selected for exhibitions at the Tokyo National Museum from June to September, and a at the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, from October to November.

The artifacts were loaned on the condition that Japan refers to the museum by its official title on all occasions. It also had to send an official invitation to request the loans and pass a law addressing Taiwan’s concerns about the return of the loaned objects.

The museum said the main organizer, the Tokyo National Museum, failed to use the museum’s official name on its official website, while its co-organizers dropped the word “national” from tickets, coupons and posters promoting the exhibition.

The National Palace Museum in Taipei houses a large collection of the finest Chinese antiquities collected by various Chinese emperors over the last thousand years.

President Ma Ying-jeou’s Nationalist Party took more than 650,000 art objects to Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists in 1949.

Since then, Taiwan and China have been governed separately, but China views Taiwan as part of its territory and claims the treasures housed in the National Palace Museum.

Due to a rapid thawing of cross-strait tensions since 2008, Taiwan’s National Palace Museum has started showcasing Chinese relics on loan from museums on the mainland. But the loans have so far been one-way, with Taiwan balking at loaning treasures to China, citing a lack of international standards for the care and safe return of loaned objects.