JAL, ANA bend on sovereignty row, swapping 'Taiwan' for 'China Taiwan' on Chinese websites


Japan’s two largest airlines have changed “Taiwan” to “China Taiwan” on their Chinese-language websites, officials said Tuesday, a move likely to please Beijing but anger the self-ruled island.

The change was made on June 12 and is meant to accommodate customers, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways said.

The description remains “Taiwan” on their websites in Japanese and other languages, however.

Both carriers said they had not received any protest from Taiwan so far, though NHK reported that Taiwan’s foreign ministry would lodge a complaint with the airlines through Japan’s de-facto diplomatic mission in Taipei.

“We made the judgment while consulting and reporting to the transport ministry and foreign ministry,” a JAL spokesman said.

“The change came on June 12 as our preparations were done by then,” he said.

June 12 was the date of the historic summit between North Korea and the United States, which attracted international attention.

“We chose a description that is easy to understand and acceptable for users of our websites,” added the JAL official, who declined to be named.

A spokesman at ANA said the change was intended to make the description “easy to understand and acceptable for customers when they use our websites.”

“We do not mean any particular group of customers here but mean all customers,” he said without elaborating.

The airlines are not the only international carriers involved. Australia’s Qantas earlier this month defending its decision to list Taiwan as part of China.

The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a notice to 36 foreign airlines in April, asking them to comply with Beijing’s standard of referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories.

Japan’s ties with China are improving after years of acrimony over historical and territorial issues. Though it has close business ties with Taiwan, it also acknowledges the “One China” policy, which describes Taiwan as an integral part of China.

Asked about the change, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo was “not in favor of government authorities demanding certain measures from private companies based on a specific political stance.”