Taiwan’s army commander in chief, Gen. Hu Chen-pu, watched one of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s major live-fire drills conducted Thursday in Shizuoka Prefecture, sources involved in Japan-Taiwan relations said.

China learned of the move beforehand and filed a prior protest over the “military exchange” between Japan and Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province, but its objection ended up being effectively ignored, the sources said.

Although the Defense Agency did not officially invite Hu, invitees to the event can take their acquaintances with them and Hu is believed to have been among them.

Japan and Taiwan have no diplomatic ties and no military exchanges have been in place between the two sides although economic and cultural exchanges are prosperous.

Hu, who assumed the top post of Taiwan’s army in February, arrived in Japan as an ordinary tourist Tuesday, according to the sources.

China on Friday strongly protested to Japan for having allowed a visit by Taiwan’s army commander in chief, saying it contravenes Tokyo’s promises to Beijing, including its vow to recognize Beijing as the sole legitimate government of China.

“The Japanese government allowing Hu to visit Japan is a grave event in Sino-Japanese relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement.

“China strongly protests the move, which explicitly violates the principles and commitments in the three Sino-Japanese political documents,” the statement said.

They include a 1972 joint communique in which Japan recognized the communist government in Beijing as “the sole legal government of China” and said it “fully understands and respects” Beijing’s view that Taiwan is an inalienable part” of communist-ruled China.

Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga said Friday his agency hasn’t confirmed if Hu was at the drill.

The Japanese diplomatic source said Tokyo explained to China that the agency did not invite Hu to the drill, but rather the exercise was open to people with invitations who could each bring one person with them.

“We strongly urge the Japanese government demonstrate its one-China policy with concrete acts and earnestly treat China’s solemn stance and grave concerns so as to prevent similar events from happening again,” the Chinese statement said.

The live-fire drills will also be held Saturday and Sunday.

Foreign and domestic military personnel were the main invitees to see Thursday’s preliminary run that precedes the other two sessions.

Military attaches at embassies in Japan are invited to observe both the weekend drills.

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