Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara will arrive in Taipei today to discuss the repercussions of Beijing's abrupt withdrawal from the Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC), and possibly invite Taipei to host this year's meeting.
Officials from the Tokyo Governor's Office confirmed yesterday that during his four-day stay, Ishihara will meet with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) following Beijing's announcement last Tuesday that it had decided to drop out of the ANMC group.
Founded in 2001 by Ishihara, the ANMC is a forum of mayors of major Asian cities. It groups Bangkok, Beijing, New Delhi, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Yangon. The 12 cities have taken turns to host annual meetings.
Taipei began its bid to host this year's ANMC meeting in July last year, but Beijing entered the race against Taipei only a few days before last year's annual meeting in Jakarta in November, apparently because it did not want to see Taipei play a significant role at the forum.
Beijing then won seven out of 12 votes to decide on this year's location, but was one vote shy of the two-thirds majority needed to win the hosting.
During the ensuing talks, all representatives except for Beijing Deputy Mayor Zhang Mao (張矛) agreed that Beijing should host the 2005 meeting, with Taipei having the right to host the 2006 event.
When the chairman of the meeting announced the results of the negotiations, Beijing's representative walked out in protest.
Beijing has since refused to endorse a joint statement issued by that meeting regarding the 2005 and 2006 host cities.
Ishihara has asked Beijing to sign the joint statement several times in the last 10 months.
In a news conference held in Tokyo on Friday last week, Ishihara condemned Beijing's "rudeness and unreasonableness" in dropping out of the group, saying that refusing to endorse the ANMC joint statement ran counter to international rules and norms.
"China is a country that does not play by the rules," Ishihara said.
As a result of Beijing's abrupt withdrawal from the group, this year's annual meeting is in doubt, which has prompted Ishihara to come to Taipei to meet Chen and Ma, who attended last year's meeting in Jakarta.
Ishihara's visit to Taiwan will be his fifth since assuming the Tokyo governorship in April 1999. He was in Taipei in May last year to attend Chen's inauguration for a second four-year term and again in October at the invitation of the Taiwan Railway Administration.
Ishihara, formerly Japan's minister of transport and a writer who received the prestigious Akutagawa Prize, has been the most prominent Japanese political figure to visit Taiwan since Japan severed formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1972.