Wed, Mar 14, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Japanese appear to backtrack on ceremony apology

Staff Writer, with CNA, TOKYO

Japanese government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said a decision not to invite Taiwan’s representative to present flowers at a ceremony on Sunday marking the first anniversary of last year’s massive earthquake and tsunami was made by the Japanese Cabinet and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to a Japanese media report yesterday.

The remarks, coming one day after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he was sorry that Taiwan’s representative was not called to present flowers at the ceremony, was “tantamount to recanting the prime minister’s apology to Taiwan,” the Sankei Shimbun reported.

Deputy Representative Lo Koon-tsan (羅坤燦) was seated on the second floor, with representatives of Japanese enterprises and nongovernmental organizations.

Noda, in response to questions by opposition lawmaker Hiroshige Seko at a Budget Committee meeting of the Diet on Monday, said Taiwan warmly extended assistance in the wake of the calamity and if Japan had hurt Taiwan, he felt truly sorry and promised to reflect on his actions.

Seko said he felt ill at ease over two things at Sunday’s ceremony, one being that representatives of other countries and sectors did not rise to greet the emperor and empress when they entered the venue, and the other being that a Taiwanese representative was not invited to present flowers.

Seko said Taiwan was one of the first countries to extend a helping hand and donated the most to the country, adding that the Japanese government had been impolite toward Taiwan. He said he understood that there could be diplomatic difficulties, but it was important to overcome such difficulties to reciprocate Taiwan’s friendship.

He said he felt sorry about Japan’s handling of the ceremony, and he hoped that Noda would apologize to Taiwan as the representative of the nation.

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