President Chen Shui-bian (
"As the US and Taiwan have the Taiwan Relations Act, Taiwan and Japan must have a better cooperative relationship," Chen said. "We'd like to see a strategic dialogue mechanism set up between the two countries, something like Japan-Taiwan security talks," he said.
A Japanese version of the TRA could serve as a pivotal foundation for maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
Chen made the remarks yesterday morning during a video conference exchange with Japanese lawmakers, academics and reporters organized by Japan's Waseda University.
The president proposed that the US, Japan and Taiwan hold trilateral dialogues before talking to China.
He thanked Japan and US for affirming that the protection of Taiwan is a "common strategic objective" and encouraging both sides of the Taiwan Strait to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue.
"I hope that Japan will play the role of a facilitator and balancing force between Taiwan and China," he said.
Chen said the North Korea crisis involves not only the test firing of missiles in July and and underground nuclear test last month but the fact that the North is not a democratic country and that its government lacks transparency.
The lack of oversight -- by a legislature, opposition parties and the public -- of its national leader also poses a serious problem, Chen said.
Although Taiwan is not a UN member, Chen said that his administration would back the implementation of the UN sanctions against Pyongyang.
While rumor has it that Japan might sacrifice Taiwan to work with China in a bid to resolve the North Korean crisis, Chen said that Taiwan and North Korea are two separate issues and cannot be mixed together.
Chen said that Washington has said that it would not sacrifice Taiwan's interests in exchange for China's cooperation on Pyongyang, and that he believes the Japanese government, its Diet and its people would not sacrifice Taiwan's interests either.
Chen said the improvement of Japan-China relations -- as shown by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent visit to China -- would not affect Taiwan's interests but corresponds with the common interests of Taiwan and Japan.
In addition to closely monitoring China's power struggles, the government also pays attention to its democratic wakening, Chen said.
"We do not want to see the rise of China as the rise of hegemony or military force," he said. "As long as China becomes a democratic country and connects itself with the world, we are not worried about its political infighting."
Describing the Taiwan-Japan relations as being in the optimum phase since the severance of diplomatic ties 34 years ago, Chen said he hoped the two countries could sign a free trade agreement.
Chen asked whether it might be feasible to ink an economic partnership agreement before as the first step toward a free trade pact.
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