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I would like to respond to Max Hirsch’s Nov. 19 (Kyodo News) article “When Taiwan-Japan relations run afoul, there’s always Hatta Yoichi.” Hirsch’s point that President Ma Ying-jeou’s observation of the 67th anniversary of Hatta’s death in a ceremony last May 8, held at a bronze statue of the engineer overlooking Wusantou Reservoir, has further amplified the political meaning of the reservoir through special visits and functions is misleading. In fact, President Ma also attended Hatta’s memorial service the previous year — even before he was sworn in as president of Taiwan (May 20, 2008). President Ma simply wants to affirm Hatta’s contribution in the construction of the reservoir.

Hirsch’s statement that “while Ma has wooed China, restarted formal negotiations across the Taiwan Strait and signed trade agreements with Beijing, Taipei’s relations with Tokyo have mostly stagnated” is also groundless. President Ma has always insisted on a “three-no’s” policy on China: no unification, no independence and no use of force. His current negotiations with China are based not on political but rather economic objectives. Taiwan’s signing of trade agreements with Beijing will not affect Taiwan’s intentions to improve relations with Japan.

Furthermore, Hirsch’s mention that the delay in opening a new office in Hokkaido is “a sign that the Ma administration’s interest in Japan is flagging” is totally inaccurate. Taiwan and Japan share fundamental values such as democracy, a free market and rule of law.

As Taiwan wishes to enhance its substantial relationship with Japan, it will open a new office in Hokkaido. The opening of the office was delayed due to insufficient preparation for staff training. Nevertheless, it will definitely open this year on Dec. 1.

wen ching chu