TAIPEI — In yet another invective directed at China, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara on Saturday said China’s Jiang Zemin would be like Adolf Hitler should he attempt to unify Taiwan and the mainland by military force.

The governor spoke to reporters following his attendance at the inaugural ceremony of Taiwan’s new president, Chen Shui-bian.

“When Hitler tried to absorb Austria (into Germany) by force, he was treated like a devil,” he said. “I don’t see any difference (between that and ) what China is trying to do (with Taiwan).

“One China, one Taiwan would do. If Jiang Zemin starts war to merge with Taiwan, he would be a Chinese Hitler,” the provocative politician went on to say.

The “one China” policy is the pillar of Beijing’s dealings with the island, which it regards as a renegade province.

On Saturday, Ishihara praised Chen as a politician who appears to have “fought for what he believed in with his life on the line.”

Taiwan’s new president is a lawyer who was involved in defending prodemocracy activists during the era of the Nationalist Party. Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-chen, was crippled in 1985 when a vehicle apparently tried to run over Chen while the two were walking down an alley — an incident that some say may have been politically motivated.

“He is clearly different from Japanese politicians” who “smile a lot and lack conviction,” Ishihara said.

Earlier in the day, Ishihara was among the roughly 1,000 foreign dignitaries from 58 nations who witnessed the swearing-in of Taiwan’s second democratically elected president here.

The governor, as well as 16 Diet members from the suprapartisan Japan-Taiwan Parliamentarians’ League, attended the inauguration ceremony. Four members of the opposition’s Democratic Party of Japan were also at the event.

Ishihara, whose participation at the ceremony has drawn ire from the Chinese government, was seated among other foreign guests of honor and seen chatting with them.

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