Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka on Monday refused to reveal further details of a comment she reportedly made to her Chinese counterpart earlier this month that Japan will not issue another entry visa to former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui.

“I will not disclose the conversation word for word, as diplomatic issues involve another nation,” Tanaka told a meeting of the Upper House Budget Committee.

Tanaka merely said she had told her Chinese counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan, that Tokyo will “carefully deal with the matter,” in line with the 1972 Japan-China joint declaration that normalized bilateral ties.

Regarding the possibility of issuing another visa to Lee at a future date, she reiterated the government’s stance that Japan will make an appropriate decision, based on a variety of factors. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he believed Tanaka’s remark was not problematic.

Tanaka’s alleged remark to Tang drew fire from within both the ruling and opposition camps, with critics claiming her comments contradict the government’s position.

According to ministry sources, Tanaka told Tang that Japan will not issue another visa to Lee. The former Taiwanese president’s visit in late April, ostensibly to receive a medical examination in Okayama, provoked furious protests from China, which complains that Lee uses such trips to promote Taiwanese independence.

In other matters meanwhile, Koizumi said he will lay out measures to expand the use of special road-building revenues before the Upper House election in July.

“I will discuss the issue with the ruling party. But I will map out courses to review (the use of road-building revenues) before the Upper House election,” Koizumi told the legislature.

Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa had previously said he will consider expanding the use of special road-building revenues — including the gasoline tax — to other projects, including urban infrastructure improvements.

He stressed the necessity of stringently assessing the unit-costs of each public works project to keep issuance of government bonds below 30 trillion yen.

When quizzed on budgetary reforms in relation to public works spending, he said, “We will be able to expand public works if we only have to pay 9.5 billion yen for a project for which we used to pay 10 billion yen.”

Shiokawa told a session of the Financial Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives last week that the government will keep the issuance of new bonds below 30 trillion yen in fiscal 2002 and 2003.

Shiokawa’s remarks Monday followed an agreement with Koizumi that the government will begin a comprehensive review of the use of special purpose tax revenues, which will be reflected in the compilation of the fiscal 2002 budget.

As the move drew sharp criticism from LDP members who apparently hope to protect their vested interests, however, LDP policy chief Taro Aso had said the party will not discuss the matter until after the Upper House election.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.