TAIPEI (Kyodo) Japan’s top representative to Taiwan, Masaki Saito, retracted remarks he made Friday saying Taiwan’s international status is unclear after the island’s government lodged a protest, according to local media reports.

Taiwan’s national Central News Agency reported online late Friday that Deputy Foreign Minister Andrew Hsia lodged a protest and demanded an explanation of the remarks Saito made at a symposium held at National Chung Cheng University in southern Taiwan.

Saito, head of the Taipei office of Japan’s Interchange Association, told Hsia that it was purely his personal view that Taiwan’s status was still unresolved and that his comment did not reflect the position of Japan, the CNA said.

The entity is Tokyo’s de facto embassy in Taipei. Japan broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan when it switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1972.

Saito’s remarks were also described as a gaffe in a front-page story of Saturday’s morning United Daily News.

Japan ruled Taiwan from 1895 to 1945, when Japan surrendered unconditionally to the Allied powers in World War II.

The administration of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou claims that sovereignty over Taiwan was transferred to the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name.

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