National

Japan tops poll of countries most supportive of Taiwan after quake

Kyodo

Japan is regarded as the country that has shown the most support for Taiwan in the wake of a powerful earthquake that struck the eastern part of the island last week, a survey released Monday showed.

The poll, which surveyed a total of 1,076 adults between Friday and Saturday, was commissioned by the Taiwan NextGen Foundation.

It indicated that nearly 76 percent of respondents replied that Japan was the country most concerned and supportive of Taiwan since the devastating quake.

Mainland China was in second place but only 1.8 percent of the respondents agreed that it was the most concerned and supportive. It was followed by Singapore at 0.8 percent and the United States at 0.6 percent.

More than 60 countries and organizations have expressed condolences since the magnitude 6.4 quake struck the coastal city of Hualien at around 11:50 p.m. on Feb. 6. The powerful quake severely damaged four buildings and killed 17 people, including one person listed as missing and presumed dead.

The fatalities include nine Chinese, five Taiwanese, two Canadians of Hong Kong origin and one Filipino. Nine Japanese were among the 291 people injured, but their injuries were not life-threatening.

Japan was the only country to dispatch a team to help with relief. The team of experts arrived with advanced equipment Thursday to assist in the search and rescue mission after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrote an open letter to President Tsai Ing-wen to express sympathy and a desire to provide assistance.

He also posted a short video on his Facebook page showing him writing encouraging words in brush and ink.

While Abe addressed Tsai as president in the letter, Beijing complained over what it called Japan’s violation of the “one China” principle.

The letter was slightly changed two hours after it was posted on Abe’s account, with Tsai’s official title taken out, according to Taiwan media reports.

In addition to sending experts and expressing sympathy, Japan has raised more than ¥100 million from individual donors.

China also offered to help, but it was declined by the Taiwan government. Nevertheless, China’s Red Cross has pledged 4.6 million New Taiwan dollars (about $157,000) in emergency funds, while the Chinese government’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and other organizations have pledged different amounts.

Seeking to reassure families of Chinese victims, Tsai has tweeted in simplified Chinese, the form of characters only used in mainland China, saying that “there is no distance between the two sides” of the Taiwan Strait and that Taiwan would not leave the Chinese tourists still buried in rubble behind.

Other countries are also assisting the relief efforts in different forms. Singapore sent a military plane to provide relief materials such as tents and medical supplies.

In addition to recognizing Japan’s support, Monday’s poll also showed that nearly 83 percent of the respondents were happy with the way the government handled the disaster. About 80 percent said the government responded quickly and 73 percent said they found Tsai handled the disaster well.