KURASHIKI, Okayama Pref. – Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui on Tuesday received a cardiac checkup at a hospital in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, and will stay overnight on the advice of the doctors.
|Former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui waves to onlookers as he arrives at the Kurashiki Chuo Hospital in Okayama Prefecture.|
Lee’s spokesman, part of Taiwan’s representative office in Tokyo, told reporters that Lee will stay at Kurashiki Central Hospital instead of returning Tuesday to Osaka as previously planned.
Lee arrived in Kurashiki earlier Tuesday by car from Osaka, where he has been staying since his arrival in Japan on Sunday.
The main purpose of his five-day trip was to undergo the checkup. He underwent an angioplasty to clear clogged arteries in November in Taipei.
Outside the hospital, a handful of pro-China demonstrators carried placards denouncing Lee and any form of independence for Taiwan.
Besides the anti-Lee protesters, several dozen other people waited to welcome the 78-year-old former Taiwan president, offering applause and waving small Japanese flags handed out by Japanese students when his limousine pulled up at the hospital’s emergency entrance.
Lee, flanked by his wife Tseng Wen-hui, got out of his car flashing his characteristic smile and shaking hands with a young woman, Masae Hayashi, who held up a welcome banner featuring beautiful Chinese calligraphy.
Hayashi, who also goes by the Chinese name Lin Cheng-hui, wished him well.
“Take care,” she said in Japanese and Chinese.
“Thank you, thank you,” Lee said before being quickly spirited away to the hospital’s underground parking lot.
Hayashi, accompanied by her Taiwanese mother, Lin Li-hua, said she was thrilled to meet Lee.
“I didn’t expect to be able to see him so close. He is much taller than he appears on television, a really nice man,” the 24-year-old artist and judo instructor said.
But some disapproved.
“Lee Teng-hui is a troublemaker for Japan-China relations,” said a placard held up by Chiao Chien, who is Chinese.
Chiao said he opposed Lee’s visit because “Lee always creates trouble with his loose mouth.” He also said he doubts that it was really necessary for Lee to come to Japan for his heart checkup.
China has charged that Lee’s trip is intended to promote Taiwan on the world stage, and is not really for medical attention.
Heart surgeon Kazuaki Mitsudo, who observed Lee’s angioplasty in Taipei, is in charge of the retired president’s examination in Kurashiki.
Mitsudo told a news conference Monday the entire procedure will take about six hours, including time to rest.
Mitsudo said it is usually necessary to do a followup examination some six months after angioplasty, which involves the introduction of a tiny balloon into blood vessels via a catheter.
Mitsudo is scheduled to examine Lee today before the retired president leaves for Taipei on Thursday.
On his way to Japan, Lee said he still suffers from heart palpitations, in particular in the morning, and that he hopes that the checkup will pinpoint the reason.
On Monday, however, a quite energetic Lee accompanied by his wife took a stroll along Osaka’s Okawa River and also toured Osaka Castle, apparently to highlight his presence in the country.
Tokyo gave Lee’s visit the green light only after he pledged not to engage in political activities nor travel outside western Japan.
So far Lee has refrained from making any politically sensitive statements in public.
But China has nonetheless indicated it will retaliate by freezing visits to Japan by officials at the vice-ministerial level and higher.
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