Thu, Dec 13, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Government to work on Japanese ties

GLOATING:Minister Without Portfolio John Deng expressed disappointment over the food ban referendum, saying people should not take ‘pleasure’ in the ruling party’s woes

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Minister Without Portfolio John Deng gestures in an undated photograph.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung Taipei Times

Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), head of the Office of Trade Negotiations, on Tuesday said that the government would continue to improve ties with Japan and would not give up on seeking support for its bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Deng made the remarks on the sidelines of a ceremony in Taipei to celebrate Japanese Emperor Akihito’s 85th birthday on Dec. 23, where Japanese Representative to Taiwan Mikio Numata said that despite Tokyo finding the results of the Nov. 24 referendum on a ban on some Japanese food imports “rather regrettable,” it would continue to collaborate with Taipei to create a bright future for both nations.

Numata’s comments represented a minor departure from the response to the referendum of Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono, who said that the results have rendered Taiwan’s chance of joining the CPTPP unlikely and that Tokyo did not rule out taking the issue to the WTO.

The referendum, initiated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), asked: “Do you agree that the government should, in connection to the March 11 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster, continue to enforce the food imports ban on 31 regions in Japan, including agricultural and food products from Fukushima and the surrounding four prefectures and municipalities (Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba)?”

About 78 percent of the nearly 10 million voters who voted on the question voted “yes.”

Asked how the government now plans to further its CPTP after the referendum, Deng said that the government would not give up its efforts to join the CPTPP and that it would seek to improve its relations with Japan through other means, without elaborating further.

Acknowledging his disappointment with the result, Deng said that the referendum question was clearly leading, as it did not include the terms “radioactive” and “contaminated,” and failed to reflect the truth, which is that there is no way for food products contaminated with radioactivity to enter Taiwan.

“No government in the world would feed their people contaminated food,” Deng said, adding that products imported into the nation need to go through three to four examinations before they are permitted entry.

Deng said that he also has concerns over the attitude of some Taiwanese, whom he said have “taken pleasure” in the problems the referendum result has caused the Democratic Progressive Party administration.

Regardless of their political affiliation, people should refrain from adopting such a triumphal attitude when it comes to international affairs, Deng said, adding that Taiwan should send consistent signals to the international community that it is a supporter of free trade.

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