Thu, Jul 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

KMT says it will work to improve Japan relations

SMEAR CAMPAIGN?The party said any impression that it was anti-Japan was the result of the DPP's efforts, and said it would work to correct this view

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Saying that any impression that it was anti-Japanese was the result of a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) smear campaign, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday outlined measures to improve its relations with Japan, including plans to better communicate with Japanese Diet members and the media.

In addition to creating a Japanese-language version of its official Web site, the KMT plans to translate major local news into Japanese and send summaries of the stories to Japanese parliamentarians and media via daily e-mails -- a move it said would help the Japanese to gain a better understanding of Taiwan from an unbiased source.

The measures were decided after KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) recent trip to Japan. Portrayed as harboring anti-Japan and pro-China sentiment, the chairman faced challenges from both the DPP and Japan about his stance on Taiwan's defense planning and his history of anti-Japanese activism during the trip.

While Ma claimed that his visit had boosted understanding between the two countries, he acknowledged the need to strengthen the KMT's relations with Japan, and denounced the DPP for damaging the KMT's reputation.

"The KMT's `anti-Japan, pro-China' image is a result of a smear campaign orchestrated by our DPP friends. People think that we are anti-Japan just because we seek cooperation and exchanges with China," Ma said yesterday during the KMT's Central Standing Committee meeting.

KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤), who visited Japan last year to promote KMT policies, also lashed out at the DPP and certain media outlets for misleading Japan.

"The DPP has invested considerable resources [in painting a certain picture of Taiwan], such as by inviting Japanese parliamentarians to visit Taiwan and promoting Taiwanese independence through media outlets including the Liberty Times, the Taipei Times and some Japanese publications," he said.

Claiming that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took his dissatisfaction with growing exchanges between the KMT and China out on Ma, Chiang suggested that the party work to erase its anti-Japan image.

KMT legislators Lee Jih-chu (李紀珠) and John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) agreed that the party should put more effort into promoting KMT policies in Japan.

"[Taiwan's] representatives in Japan are all pro-independence ... We should have a KMT representative stationed there in order to enhance communication with the Japanese Diet," he said.

While declining to send a KMT representative to Japan for financial reasons, Ma said party legislators and academics should visit the country regularly, adding that he would meet with Japanese media figures more often to improve the KMT's negative image.

The chairman, however, criticized Koizumi's controversial visits to the Yasukuni shrine during his trip and urged him to take a broader look at history, saying that the visits seemed to contradict "the Japanese values of honoring human rights and freedoms."

Ma yesterday defended his stance and said many Japanese shared his opinion and were opposed to their leaders visiting the shrine, which honors 2.5 million war dead, including 14 top war criminals.

He said Japanese politicians told him they would be pleased to see the KMT improve ties with China, as it could help reduce tension across the Taiwan Strait, adding that he would visit the country again next spring.

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