Tue, Mar 07, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Japan association name change mulled

REFLECTING REALITY:The foreign minister said that the proposed change had been sent to the premier for approval. No change is planned now for the group handling US ties

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee attends a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

The Executive Yuan is reviewing a proposal to change the name of the Association of East Asian Relations to the “Association of Taiwan-Japan Relations,” Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) said yesterday, adding that the change is expected to be approved by the end of this month.

Lee made the announcement in response to a question from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.

Tsai’s question came one day after Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said at an event in Tokyo that a consensus about a proposed name change had been reached at the association’s recent board meeting in Taipei.

“The Association of East Asian Relations is planning to use the name ‘Association of Taiwan-Japan Relations.’ The case has been referred to Premier Lin Chuan (林全) for approval,” Lee said.

As for the possibility of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan being renamed the “Taiwan Representative Office in Japan,” Lee said negotiations with Tokyo were ongoing.

Such name changes require the consent of both sides, with the same principle applying to overseas offices in other countries, Lee said.

The Association of East Asian Relations is in charge of handling ties with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, which ended in 1972. Its office in Tokyo changed its name to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan in 1992.

Japan also set up a quasi-official organization, formerly known as the Interchange Association, Japan, to represent its interests in Taipei. The organization was renamed as the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association in January.

Calls for the Ministry of Foreign Relations’ (MOFA) association to change its name to one that is more indicative of its real functions and improving Taipei-Tokyo ties have been growing since January.

DPP Legislator Chih-cheng (羅致政) questioned Lee about changing the name of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs, established as the counterpart of the American Institute in Taiwan.

“This issue should not be put at the top of our list of priorities, as there are still many concrete matters to be discussed between Taiwan and the US,” Lee said.

In related news, Lee told lawmakers that relations with one or more of the nation’s diplomatic allies in the Caribbean are “kind of unstable,” but that “they are still under control.”

“That is why a visit by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to allies in that region in the second half of this year is being planned as part of the government’s efforts to cement ties with diplomatic partners there,” Lee said in response to questions from Lo.

Lee said the ministry has taken measures to improve ties with the countries in question and that the situation was under control.

“The ministry has been keeping close tabs on ties with Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and will address issues immediately if it notices something wrong,” he said.

Lee did not cite specific countries.

Taiwan has diplomatic relations with 21 countries, most of which are in Latin America and Africa.

Additional reporting by CNA

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