• Kyodo


About 150 Japanese and Taiwanese scholars, politicians and financiers kicked off a two-day symposium on bilateral relations and security in Asia here Monday, without the participation of former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui.

The theme of the 12th and final Asia Open Forum, which has been held annually in Japan and Taiwan since 1989, was “intellectual strategy for the new century.”

The forum started one year after Lee became Taiwan’s president and will end its discussions to reflect his retirement from politics in May.

Participants at the conference included Masao Kamei, counselor at Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd., and Taiwanese Vice Defense Minister Chen Pi-chao.

Lee, who quit politics after 12 years in power, had expressed a desire to go to the symposium as a private citizen.

But China strongly opposed the visit, saying Lee is not an ordinary person and his trip to Japan would have grave consequences for Sino-Japanese ties. Japan was reluctant to issue Lee an entry visa.

Lee sent a videotaped message to the conference.

expressing regret for his absence and pledging Taiwan’s contribution to enhanced cooperation and development of Asia.

The forum, arranged by Mineo Nakajima, president of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, and others, has served as a meeting place for scholars, opinion makers and business leaders from both sides in the absence of diplomatic ties.

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