One day after completing his three-day visit to Japan, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) opponent, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), to declare his stance on the Diaoyutai (釣魚台) dispute and comfort women.
"Japan claims that comfort women were not forced and that the Diaoyutais are within its territory. My views on these issues are opposite to theirs and as a result many Japanese oppose me," Ma said during a visit to Chiayi County. "I hope Hsieh (謝長廷) will inform Japan of his views on these two issues."
The Diaoyutais are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and are regularly visited by activists from both sides, as well as China, which also claims the territory.
Japan declared the islands part of its territory in 1895. They were temporarily put under US control after World War II, before being returned to Japan in 1972, together with the Ryukyu island chain.
Ma conducted a three-day visit in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo in Japan from Wednesday to Friday and said the trip aimed to obtain better knowledge about Japan and changing the "anti-Japan" image attributed to him by some local media outlets.
Ma has been viewed as anti-Japanese because of his position on the Republic of China's (ROC) sovereignty over the Diaoyutais. During his trip in Japan, some Japanese held protests and urged him to "go home."
Hsieh is scheduled to conduct a four-day visit to Japan next month. Aside from making speeches in Tokyo, he will pay a visit to Kyoto, where he obtained a master's degree in law at Kyoto University.
Addressing the KMT's 113th anniversary yesterday in Chiayi County, Ma reiterated the cross-strait position he made during his visit to Japan, promising to pursue a policy of "no unification, no independence and no armed conflict" if elected.
Ma said he would maintain the "status quo" in cross-strait relations, but would seek to negotiate with China on "normalizing economic ties, signing a peace treaty and increasing Taiwan's presence internationally."
Carrying a bag of rice and wearing a white T-shirt and traditional slippers, Ma promised that his party would put Taiwan first in its policies, while urging voters not to be fooled by the DPP's tactics during the elections.
"I believe the KMT will win the presidential election next year, but we must beware the DPP's tactics," he said at the ceremony in Chiayi's baseball stadium.
KMT heavyweights, including KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), attended the celebration, which was a large-scale campaign event for Ma and the party's legislative candidates.