Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Japan PM's conciliatory move toward China not a negative for Taiwan: forum

TURNING POINT A forum on Taiwan-Japan relations said that 2008 would be a critical period for East Asia as Taiwan and the US would be electing new presidents

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The diplomatic strategies that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has adopted since assuming office in September may not necessarily be a negative for Taiwan's relations with Japan, panelists attending a forum on Taiwan-Japan relations said yesterday.

The elections being held in Japan next year as well as those in Taiwan and the US in 2008 could be the critical determinants of a power reshuffle in East Asia, they added.

Yesterday's forum was hosted by the Foundation on International and Cross-Strait Studies and the Japanese-based Forum on Asian Issues.

The forum, called "Japan's new regime and the political situation in East Asia," was attended by Japanese and Taiwanese academics and political commentators, with the objective of analyzing new developments in the relationship between Taiwan, Japan, China and the US after the formation of the Abe government in September.

The year 2008 will be a turning point because both Taiwan and the US will have new presidents that year, the panelists said.

The outcome of the two elections will affect the development of relations between Taiwan, Japan and China, said Asano Kazuo, professor of Heisei International University's law school.

The result of next year's elections for the Upper House in Japan would either consolidate or undermine Abe's regime, Kazuo said.

If Abe's Liberal Democratic Party wins the elections, then Abe could consolidate his power base, enjoy more stable governance and better implement his policies, Kazuo said.

However, if Abe loses, Japan may suffer some political uncertainty and would not be able to dominate in East Asia, he said.

But before that election, the Abe administration has to maintain good relations with New Komeito, the pro-China political party.

As such, reconciling with China through "careful gestures and measures" is a must from the perspective of local elections, Kazuo said.

"One thing for sure is that Abe will adopt the US-Japan alliance as the keynote of his diplomatic strategy," he added.

Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), head of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Department of Chinese Affairs, told the forum that Japan and China would be the two main political protagonists that would determine the situation in East Asia before the arrival of 2008.

"The political order in 2007 and 2008 in East Asia will follow the bilateral interactions between Abe and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤)," Lai said .

Since "stabilization" is the crux of Abe's new policies in diplom-acy, economics and politics, Abe's visit to China last month was a key move to attain this goal, Lai added.

Lai said that he did not think Abe would sacrifice the interests of Taiwan to advance Japan's relations with China since the Japanese prime minister has played a key role in developing Taiwan-Japan relations and interacts well with politicval parties in Taiwan.

Ho Szu-shen (何思慎), an associate professor at the department of Japanese at Fu Jen Catholic University, said that Taiwan Taiwan is not necessarily an issue when Japan interacts with China.

"Taiwan does not have to be pessimistic about the improving relations between China and Japan," Ho said.

"So long as Taiwan does not provoke any tension, China will have no excuse to find fault with Japan," he added.

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