Sat, Dec 24, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Envoy to Japan envisions formal ties

REALITY CHECK MOFA officials say that achieving the goal will require the creation of a Japanese version of the TRA, but admit that this is easier said than done

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Taiwan's representative to Japan Koh Se-kai (許世楷) said on Thursday that the goal of pushing for the institutionalization of Taiwan-Japan relations will be a priority of his working agenda in Japan for next year.

Speaking at a year-end press conference with Taiwanese reporters in Tokyo, Koh said that although the channels of exchange between Taiwan and Japan are robust, the fact is that they are not institutionalized in the manner of the ties between Japan and the US or between Taiwan and the US, which are managed by the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

An official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday indicated that achieving the aim of institutionalizing Taiwan-Japan relations would require the enactment of a Japanese version of the TRA.

However, the official admitted that it would be difficult for Japan to legislate for such an agreement in the near future.

"Japan is not able to [pass such a law] yet. Given the fact that Japan's survival is so closely tied to the maintenance of peaceful relations with its neighbors, including China, it will be very difficult for Japan to come up with a law like [the TRA]," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"Equal development with its neighbors is critical to Japan's interests. Therefore, it is impossible for Japan to offend China for Taiwan's sake," the official said.

The official said that although the younger generation of Japanese politicians has been more outspoken in pushing for Japan to become a more assertive country, this alone is not enough to push through the legislative equivalent of a Japanese TRA.

Referring to the Japanese government's move of classifying Taiwanese people living in Japan as Chinese citizens, Koh said that this will not only cause inconvenience to Taiwanese people, but will also affect their legal rights.

However, Koh said he is confident that a solution to the problem will be found.

As to the lingering fishing rights dispute between Taiwan and Japan, Koh urged both governments to seek solutions.

Regarding the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna's decision (partially as a result of Japanese claims that Taiwanese tuna fishing boats were overfishing) to cut Taiwan's bigeye tuna fishing quota in the Atlantic Ocean from 13,500 tonnes this year to 4,200 tonnes for next year, Koh said that the solution to the problem lies in the self-control of each country.

He urged fishing boats around the world to respect international regulations to further protect the world's marine resources.

Koh went on to say that in view of the many anti-Japanese protests in China, Japan no longer has any illusions about its powerful neighbor, and is aware that it will not be able to promote change in that country through long-term engagement.

Koh also noted that due to China's objections it is impossible to imagine that Taiwan will be able to join the proposed "East Asian Community," which may include the ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea.

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