Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 4 News List

PRC goldmark move will fail: official

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

China's attempts to help a group of Taiwanese people in their bid to claim repayment from Japan for goldmarks they say they were forced to buy after World War I are doomed to fail, an official said yesterday.

"We are aware of [China's move]. But China will get the same answer as Taiwan," Tsai Ming-yao (蔡明耀), deputy secretary-general of the Association of East Asian Relations, told a press conference.

Tsai made the remarks in response to Fan Liqing (范麗青), spokeswoman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, who on Wednesday said her government had recently conveyed its intention to help with the matter to the Japanese government through diplomatic channels.

"The Japanese government is under obligation to make the payments," Fan said.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that China's move was merely a "political gesture."

A group of people who said that the Japanese government, of which Taiwan was a colony at the time, forced them to purchase goldmarks, which Germany offered Japan after World War I as war indemnification, have been unsuccessfully demanding payment from Japan.

The group, led by Chen Chao-yu (陳照玉), recently turned to China for help.

Chen said there are about 30,000 creditors around the nation and the money the Japanese government owed them amounts to US$20 billion based on present values.

But Tsai said that Japan hasn't changed its position on the issue since the government started negotiations with the Japanese a number of years ago.

"[Japan's] position is that its government never obtained goldmarks from Germany and it is not the debtor of Taiwanese goldmark holders. Japan said it has nothing to do with the matter," Tsai said.

Tsai said he doubted the effectiveness of China's intervention in the matter as the Chinese government had already lobbied Tokyo on the mattter in 2004.

"Some goldmarks were sent to Germany for authentication when the government was negotiating the matter with Japan. The German government said that the goldmarks were not bonds, but a currency denomination that was in circulation between 1876 and 1924," Tsai said.

A great deal of evidence is required to support claims that Taiwanese were forced to buy goldmarks from the Japanese government because Taiwan and Northeast China are the only places where such events are said to have happened, Tsai said.

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