Thu, May 09, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Japanese foreign minister backs Taiwan attending WHA

By Lin Chia-nan and Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporters

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono on Tuesday tweeted Japan’s support for Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly.

Screengrab from Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono’s Twitter account

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono yesterday voiced support for Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Japan’s support for the nation’s bid to attend the WHA came after the US, the UK and the EU issued calls for Taiwan to be allowed to attend the meeting.

Due to globalization, it is essential to strengthen response measures to global public health crises and prevent geographical gaps in infectious disease control, Kono said on Twitter.

It was the first time a Japanese foreign minister has openly voiced support for Taiwan to attend the WHA since diplomatic relations were cut in 1972, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said on condition of anonymity.

The ministry later expressed its gratitude to Kono on Twitter, saying in Japanese that Japan’s support highlights the importance of Taiwan’s participation in global health security and the inequality caused by ignoring the basic human rights of 23 million Taiwanese.

The 72nd WHA is to be held from May 20 to 28 in Geneva, and online registration for meetings ended on Monday.

Taiwan has not received an invitation from the WHO to attend this year, the third consecutive year that the nation has been excluded due to Chinese obstruction.

Legislative caucuses across party lines on Tuesday urged the government to continue efforts to secure an invitation to the WHA, with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the New Power Party condemning China’s suppression of Taiwan, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) blamed the DPP-led government for a bad cross-strait relationship.

At the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday morning, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that the US has shown stronger support for Taiwan to attend the WHA this year, including several public remarks by officials, and the nation is grateful.

“We are working hard to attend, but it has become very difficult for us due to China’s suppression,” Chen said.

“However, I think our efforts and the process are still meaningful, as they allow the world to recognize Taiwan’s strength in healthcare, and that we are willing to substantially contribute to global disease prevention and public health,” he said.

Like-minded countries have this year shown stronger support for Taiwan to attend the WHA, implying that they see the nation’s efforts and recognize its soft power in the field of medicine and public health, he added.

Chen, who was last night to depart for Geneva, said that he would redouble efforts to hold bilateral meetings with officials from other nations in the hopes of achieving meaningful results, as well as hold discussions and conferences to increase Taiwan’s international visibility.

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