Japan’s Mori plants cherries
Former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori, who arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, will attend a cherry blossom planting today in recognition of the strong ties between the two countries. More than 500 people, half of whom are Japanese, plan to join Mori in planting seeds at the Yoichi Hatta Memorial Park in Greater Tainan, said the event’s organizer, a sports association from Japan. Mori said the memorial park was built in May last year in honor of Hatta, a Japanese engineer who made major contributions to Taiwan’s hydraulic development in the early 1900s by building the Chianan Canal (嘉南大圳) and the Wushantou Reservoir (烏山頭水庫). More than a century after Hatta’s work, Taiwanese returned the favor by donating generously in the wake of last year’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Mori said. “On behalf of Japanese, I want to express my thanks to Taiwan,” Mori said.
Ma’s nominees confirmed
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) nominees for vice president of the Examination Yuan Wu Jin-lin (伍錦霖) and for membership of the civil service testing branch Nancy Chao (趙麗雲) and Hwang Giin-tarng (黃錦堂) passed their confirmation yesterday, each by a vote of 66 to 6. The Democratic Progressive Party, which holds 40 seats in the 113-seat legislature, declined to cast ballots because the vote “was merely a formality.” The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and the People First Party (PFP), each of which has three seats, said they all voted against the nominations. The TSU said that the party opposed the nominees because they did not support shrinking the council of the Examination Yuan, which currently has 19 members, while the PFP said it was not satisfied with their academic qualifications.
FIT to expand this month
Taiwan has decided to expand its Free Independent Traveler (FIT) program for Chinese nationals with effect from late this month, to allow visits by individual tourists from other Chinese cities besides Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, the National Immigration Agency said yesterday. Starting on April 28, Chinese tourists from Tianjin, Chongqing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Chengdu will be allowed to make independent trips to Taiwan, which means they will no longer be required to join a tour group, the agency said. As part of Taiwan’s broader efforts to increase tourism from China, the daily quota of independent Chinese visitors will also be doubled to 1,000 with effect from April 28, the immigration agency said.
Ministry mulls Yeoh invite
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said it might invite Hollywood actress Michelle Yeoh (楊紫瓊) to help raise awareness of road safety. The proposal came following the visit of Yeoh’s fiance, former Ferrari CEO Jean Todt, to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Thursday. Hsieh Chao-i (謝潮儀), executive secretary of the Road Traffic Safety Committee, met Todt on behalf of the ministry. He said Todt came as the president of motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, which now helps promote the UN’s 10-year campaign to enhance global road safety. The UN had announced a “Decade of Action for Road Safety,” beginning last year, which aimed to save 5 million lives by 2020. Yeoh also serves as the global ambassador for the “Make Roads Safe” campaign, launched by the Commission for Global Road Safety under the FIA.