Tue, Nov 05, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Lee calls on media to exercise restraint

A SCOLDING The former president told reporters that he would not apply for a visa to Japan, a trip he wants to make soon, until they quit exaggerating the visit's importance

By Lin Mei-Chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui, second left, stumps for the TSU city councilor candidates at the party's headquarters in Taipei yesterday.


Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday advised the media to exercise restraint on his proposed trip to Japan, saying too much news coverage might spoil his visit.

The former president is scheduled to depart for Tokyo on Nov. 23 where he will be a guest speaker for Keio University, one of the nation's most prestigious schools, on the following day.

Lee is expected to deliver a one-hour speech entitled "the Spirit of Japan."

Appearing at TSU headquarters yesterday to stump for the party's city councilor candidates, Lee told reporters he had not yet applied for a visa. He said he hoped the media would not exaggerate the importance of his trip because too many reports might hinder his plan.

"I will file my visa application when you [the reporters] are quiet," he said.

Lee's trips to Japan have always been a sensitive issue as China scorns Lee for trying to break Taiwan's diplomatic isolation during his 12 years in power. Beijing has warned Japan not to allow Lee to visit.

In April of last year, Lee was in Japan to undergo medial treatment for a heart ailment.

But his trip divided Japanese officials and his visa was not issued until the last minute after Lee mocked the nation by saying that "the guts of the Japanese government are as small as that of a mouse."

But TSU officials are optimistic about Lee's forthcoming trip later this month.

Chen Horng-chi (陳鴻基), the former deputy director of the KMT's organization department who defected to the TSU over the weekend, said that Lee's proposed trip should not run into any difficulties.

Chen, the newly-appointed director for the TSU's organization department, said several Japanese congressmen and public opinion in Japan are supportive of Lee's trip.

Chen said he had questioned the Japanese Interchange Association in Taipei, whose officials said that Lee's visits to Japan always touch a political nerve.

The new TSU director noted that to express their sincerity, three Japanese students from Keio University had come to Taiwan last month to extend their invitation to the former president in person. The former president was said to be deeply moved by their sincerity.

Lee's trip has been arranged by Tokyo-based national policy adviser Alice King (金美齡).

King said last month, when she was in Taipei, that Lee would probably be allowed to visit Japan because the Japanese public is highly supportive of his visits.

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