National / Politics

Japan seeks deeper ties with Taiwan as Tsai Ing-wen begins second term

Kyodo

Japan is eager to deepen ties with Taiwan as its president, Tsai Ing-wen, begins her second term in office, top government spokesman Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.

Taiwan is an “important partner and precious friend” who shares basic values with Japan, Suga noted, adding that they enjoy close economic ties and increased people-to-people exchanges.

“We’d like to congratulate President Tsai Ing-wen on the start of her second term,” Suga said at a news conference.

“Based on our stance to maintain nongovernmental, working-level ties, Japan will continue to deepen cooperation and exchanges with Taiwan,” he added.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks Wednesday at a news conference at the prime minister's office. | KYODO
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks Wednesday at a news conference at the prime minister’s office. | KYODO

In its annual diplomatic bluebook released Tuesday, Japan called Taiwan an “extremely important partner” — a boost from last year’s description that referred to Taipei as a “crucial partner.” Highlighting the importance of the two countries’ ties, this year’s bluebook also devoted a full page to Taiwan, twice as much space as the 2019 edition.

Tsai, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, won re-election in January after her opposition to Taiwan’s unification with the mainland under the “one country, two systems” principle of China resonated with many voters.

Beijing has been trying to foil Taipei’s attempt to boost its international recognition. Most recently, Taiwan was unable to participate in this year’s assembly of the World Health Organization as an observer despite calls, including from Japan, for its inclusion amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Japan’s bluebook emphasized for the first time that Japan has “consistently supported” Taiwan in gaining observer status at the World Health Assembly.

During the news conference, Suga expressed appreciation to the people of Taiwan for their “warm support” amid the viral outbreak. Taiwan donated 2 million face masks to Japan in April when it was struggling to meet surging demand.

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