• Kyodo

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Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has extended an invitation to outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to visit Taiwan in October to attend the inaugural ceremony for a Japan-made high-speed railway.

Chen told Fuji TV in an interview Tuesday in Palau that he hopes Koizumi can make the visit to inaugurate the railway linking Taipei in the island’s north and Kaohsiung in the south, a government spokesman was quoted as saying by the Central News Agency.

He also expressed hope that Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe will succeed Koizumi as prime minister later this month. Abe is the odds-on favorite to win the ruling Liberal Democratic Party election.

“Mr. Abe is friendly and knows Taiwan very well. His victory would be conducive to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as well as the Asia-Pacific region (as a whole),” Chen was quoted by CNA as saying.

Japan switched diplomatic recognition in 1972 from Taipei to Beijing, which sees the self-governing island as a breakaway province that should not conduct independent diplomacy.

Retired Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori made a low-profile trip to Taiwan in late 2003 amid strong protests from Beijing, becoming the second former Japanese leader to visit the island, after Takeo Fukuda in 1992.

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