First lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) and her entourage did not travel to Tokyo yesterday morning as planned after the National Palace Museum notified the Tokyo National Museum that posters promoting an exhibition of artifacts from the Taipei museum did not carry the Taipei institution’s full name.
Chow was initially scheduled to preside at a ceremonial opening of the exhibition of National Palace Museum pieces in Tokyo today, but has “temporarily postponed” her visit to Japan, according to the Presidential Office.
Political sources familiar with the issue said the reason Chow’s visit was “temporarily postponed,” rather than “canceled” is to allow for further coordination and follow-up by the Japanese organizers, since there is still time for negotiations before the formal opening ceremony tomorrow.
A National Palace Museum official said yesterday that the Tokyo museum is replacing the promotional posters in which the word “national” was omitted from the Taipei museum’s name, adding that it will decide whether to go ahead with the exhibition only after the complaint is fully addressed.
Saying that the omission breaches an agreement between the two museums, the National Palace Museum demanded on Friday that all promotional posters for the exhibition that did not have the full name be removed by midnight the following day.
Selected artifacts from the Taipei museum were to be displayed under the title “Treasured Masterpieces from the National Palace Museum, Taipei” at the Tokyo museum from tomorrow to Sept. 15, and at the Kyushu National Museum from Oct. 7 to Nov. 30. Controversy erupted when some posters advertising the exhibition used “Palace Museum, Taipei,” omitting the word “national.”
The posters in question, which have been spotted at train stations and parks in Tokyo, were prepared by a media sponsor group comprising major media outlets including NHK, the Asahi Shimbun and other TV stations and newspapers.
However, the official posters and brochures prepared by the Tokyo museum refer to the Taipei museum by its full name.
Meanwhile, entrance tickets sold by the Tokyo museum remain on sale, since they are printed with the National Palace Museum’s full name, Tokyo National Museum director of administration Yuji Kurihara said yesterday.
Japan has diplomatic ties with Beijing rather than Taipei, but maintains close trade and other ties with the nation.
The National Palace Museum has more than 600,000 artifacts spanning 7,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic period to the end of the Qing Dynasty.
For years, the Taipei museum was unwilling to lend the artifacts to Japan for fear that China would try to reclaim them, until the Japanese government passed a law in 2011 to prevent such seizures.
Additional reporting by AFP