Fri, Aug 27, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Japan paper reports Lee wanting to visit Japan

ALL PLAY, NO WORK Lee Teng-hui's latest reported plans to visit old friends in Japan have the papers in Japan hopping and the government staying mum


The Japanese foreign ministry has declined to comment on former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) plan to visit Japan, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said it knows nothing about Lee's trip.

The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Lee hoped to visit Japan late next month and early October. The trip, according to officials from the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, is purely for recreational purposes.

The report quoted Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima as saying the ministry had no comment on Lee's wish to visit and that it would review the matter when Lee applies for a visa.

Some Japanese foreign affairs officials have said that although Lee is no longer president, he still engages in political activities, and that it is difficult for them to determine whether his visit is purely for private purposes, the report said.

Both Gary Lin (林松煥), director general of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and the ministry's Association of East Asian Relations, which is in charge of Japan affairs, said they were not aware of Lee's trip.

An association official said Lee's friends in Japan's political circles have been helping him arrange the trip.

MOFA and the association have not been involved in arranging the visit, the official said.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Sankei Shimbun daily, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said he hoped that Japan could follow the US and allow him to transit during his Central American tour.

Lin said that the ministry had so far received no instructions for a presidential transit in Japan. Chen will tour allies in Central America next week.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun, whose plane was forced to land in Okinawa on Wednesday on the way back from a 14-day trip to Central America because of Typhoon Aere, inadvertently became the first Taiwanese premier to enter Japan since that country cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1972.

The Japanese government granted Yu a 72-hour landing visa and a high-profile reception. Koh Se-kai (許世楷), Taiwan's representative to Japan, said yesterday that Yu could have transited in Tokyo with the three-day visa, but that Yu had decided not to do so because he wanted to return to Taiwan to oversee disaster relief work.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan (孔泉) protested Yu's stopover in Okinawa, saying Beijing had expressed its "serious concern" to the Japanese government over the matter.

In response, Lin said that Yu stopped in Okinawa for safety's sake because of the weather.

"It did not carry any special diplomatic meaning," he said.

In related news, a delegation of 12 parliamentarians and 79 district councilmen from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will meet with Chen and other politicians today, officials from the Association of East Asian Relations said yesterday.

The delegation arrived on Wednesday evening on a four-day visit.

Members of the delegation are mostly under 35, and the party is aiming to promote exchanges with younger political figures.

The delegation will help establish a platform of exchange between the new generation of Taiwanese and Japanese political figures, and will help advance bilateral relations, Lin said.

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