Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Legislative Yuan's defense committee plans to visit Japan

EXCHANGE A group of legislators from all parties will leave at the end of the month, to enhance cooperation between the two sides

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A cross-party group of legislators from the national defense committee will leave for Japan late this month, marking the first such exchange between the two countries.

The itinerary for the group's visit is being organized by Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) -- a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator and one of the chairpersons of the committee -- who will be joined on the trip by DPP Legislator Tang Huo-shen (湯火聖), Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Ho Min-hao (何敏豪), as well as lawmakers from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party.

Tang told the Taipei Times that the main purpose of the trip is to discuss issues concerning military cooperation between Taiwan and Japan with Japanese lawmakers and some retired officials from its defense agency. Some Taiwanese officials from the Ministry of National Defense will also join the trip, he added.

In recent years, Japan has been gradually changing its military strategies and tactics for dealing with security issues in the Asia-Pacific Region. Lee said that Japan, which used to avoid expressing a position on a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, has made its position clearer and stronger.

Following on a joint statement released by the US and Japan in February calling Taiwan a mutual security concern, Japan in its annual defense white paper issued last week, made an even more concrete declaration, Lee said.

For example, Japan stated in the paper that it would provide logistics support to the US and would form an alliance with the US to against China, he said.

Tang hoped the trip would help strengthen communication between the two countries.

While Taiwan has established a stable mechanism for communicating with the US, we lack one for conducting military exchanges with Japan, Tang said, noting that he hoped that the trip would help enhance cooperation between two countries.

Tang said that the security of the Asia-Pacific Region was vital for Japan to be able to secure its national interests, as the area surrounding the Taiwan Strait is an important transportation channel for its both its energy supplies and economic products.

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