Sun, Dec 16, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Officials seek Japan’s support for pact

IMPORTANT TIES:Signatories of the Japan-led trade partnership are to meet next month, and could discuss ways for new members to accede, minister John Deng said

By Lee Hsin-fang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Minister Without Portfolio John Deng, left, is joined by National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling as he speaks at a news conference at the APEC ministerial meeting in Papua New Guinea on Nov. 16.

Photo: CNA

Government efforts to smooth over Taiwan-Japan relations in private have begun in earnest in the hopes of persuading Japan to support Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), despite Taiwan’s ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures.

In a referendum held alongside the Nov. 24 local elections, 78 percent of nearly 10 million voters cast ballots in favor of referendum No. 9, which 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)?”

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono on Friday last week said that the vote makes it unlikely that Taiwan’s CPTPP bid would succeed and Tokyo did not rule out taking the issue to the WTO.

Efforts to improve relations include President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) conveying her well-wishes to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association for Japanese Emperor Akihito’s birthday on Dec. 23, when the association hosted an early celebration, while Premier William Lai (賴清德) is to attend the event, the source said.

In a meeting with Japanese friends, Tsai also reiterated Taiwan’s wish to join the treaty, the source said, adding that the government has sought to reassure Japan that nothing would affect Taiwan-Japan relations.

Taiwan has also contacted other CPTPP signatories, such as Australia, Canada and Singapore, in the hopes of securing their sponsorship to join the pact.

Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) said that the government is still talking to Japan to obtain its support for Taiwan joining the free-trade pact.

With the treaty to go into effect at the end of the month, the signatories are expected to hold a ministerial-level meeting next month, during which the body might debate procedures and regulations regarding accession of new members, Deng said.

Despite facing significant challenges, the government is preparing for a possible second round of negotiations to join the treaty, a government official said.

Despite Japan’s stance, Taiwan still has a chance of being admitted as a member, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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