Fri, Nov 03, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Frank Hsieh says Japanese ‘TRA’ difficult to pass

Staff writer, with CNA

Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh holds up bananas given to him by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Jason Hsu at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

It would be difficult for Taiwan to persuade the Japanese Diet to adopt a version of the US Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) told the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

Fielding questions at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, Hsieh said the two nations are close partners on several fronts, including regional security, but a major obstacle to achieving closer ties is the lack of official diplomatic relations.

Hsieh said that because Japan abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1972, Tokyo does not have a law like the TRA, which means Taipei can only operate in an unofficial capacity in Japan.

This “makes things very hard for Taiwan,” he added.

Previous Japanese media reports have said that Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers are trying to draft a Japanese version of the TRA that would seek to formalize unofficial ties.

Specifically, the law would create “a basis for strengthening economic relations and personal exchanges,” according to a Kyodo News report.

Asked if Taiwan could do anything to accelerate the adoption of such a law, Hsieh said “that would be extremely difficult” as Tokyo adheres to a “one China” policy and recognizes Beijing, not Taipei.

Despite the lack of official ties, Taiwan continues to develop closer relations with Japanese municipal governments, city councils and non-governmental organizations, Hsieh said.

There have been 85 agreements between local authorities in the two nations or sister-town pacts, he said.

“We will continue to enhance relations with Japan using an incremental block-building approach,” he said.

Hsieh was asked about a Kyodo News report on Tuesday, citing unidentified sources, that said a round of Taiwan-Japan Trade and Economics Meeting talks are to be held on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22, where the Japanese side plans to bring up Taiwan’s ban on food imports from Fukushima Prefecture and surrounding areas.

One source said the issue “will be resolved soon,” adding that the Japanese side would be “well prepared” this time, the report said.

Hsieh said he was not aware that a date has been finalized for the talks or whether the meeting would address the import ban.

Asked if the food ban should be lifted, Hsieh said that his personal stance was in line with the government’s, which is to put the safety of Taiwanese first.

However, it is also a fact that Taiwan and China are the only two nations that continue to ban Japanese food imports, Hsieh said, adding that he hopes the issue could be amicably resolved as soon as possible.

The government banned the import of food produced in Gunma, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster on March 11, 2011. It tightened restrictions in 2015 when some products from those prefectures were discovered on the market, drawing strong criticism from the Japanese government.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last year said it is considering lifting the ban on food imports from all but Fukushima Prefecture, but the idea has has run into heavy opposition.

Hsieh added that no date has been set for a maritime affairs meeting, but said it would definitely be held before the end of this year.

Taiwan-Japan Relations Association Secretary-General Chang Shu-ling (張淑玲) told lawmakers that each nation could bring up issues of importance to them at the Taiwan-Japan Trade and Economics Meeting talks, but no date or agenda has been announced.

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