Tue, Jun 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Beijing concerned over Taipei 2020’s reach

Hideki Nagayama, the director of the Taiwan 2020 Campaign Council and chairman of the Taiwan Research Forum, in an interview with ‘Taipei Times’ staff reporter Huang Tai-lin said that the campaign has made Beijing anxious due to its outreach and appeal to Japanese, and that China is concerned about the extent of the campaign’s effects, while acknowledging pro-China and China-phobic tendencies in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly

TT: How do Japanese react to the petition?

Nagayama: I find them to be very enthusiastic about it, relatively speaking, after taking in account that there are many kinds of petition activities going on in Japan.

Our petitions have been well-received; because their subject matter is Taiwan. Many people expressed interest and support after learning that our campaign is about Taiwan.

I am in charge of petitioning in Northern Tokyo and so far we have collected about 20,000 petitions; not so many, as we are understaffed.

There is no threshold for a petition to be submitted to the assembly as long as assembly members support our cause and make it an item of discussion, although of course we hope to collect as many signatures as possible.

There are quite a few assembly members who have either pro-China or China-phobic mindsets.

We hope that the assembly would pass a resolution in support of our cause, and that a demand would then be tabled with the IOC.

Our strength is limited, as we are, after all, just a civic group; so we need support from the organizers of the Games.

There is one other issue: Japanese mainstream media outlets seem reluctant to cover our campaign events. Why? Because they are also afraid of arousing China’s anger.

TT: What role could the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee play to support the campaign?

Nagayama: The campaign certainly needs support from Taiwan, including the government and Taiwan’s Olympic committee.

However, they seem not to want to get involved, and it appears to me that they are afraid of “creating trouble.”

That is why I now approach the campaign as Japan’s own domestic issue. I hope that Taiwan’s Olympic committee would not obstruct the campaign.

The Taiwanese government often says its stance on the name “Chinese Taipei” is “unsatisfactory, but acceptable.” Simply put, it lacks courage.

TT: What is Japanese’s general impression of Taiwan?

Nagayama:Prior to the 1990s, before Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) assumed presidency, Japanese were not that interested in Taiwan, because it was under Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) rule [Editor’s note: former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) was in office before Lee] who claimed it to be “free China,” whereas most Japanese knew of only one China, which was the People’s Republic of China.

However, Japanese’s perception changed after Lee took office and began Taiwan’s democratization. Through Lee’s speeches in Japanese — as well through older Taiwanese who had been robbed off their freedom of speech under the former Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] authoritarian regime starting to speak their minds and voicing their ideas for an independent Taiwan — Japanese started to realize that Taiwan should belong to Taiwanese.

Young Japanese who are not interested in politics were touched by the help provided by Taiwanese in the aftermath of the earthquake and they developed an affinity toward Taiwan, having discovered that “we have such a nice brotherly nation next to Japan.” There has since been a new wave of “Taiwan-lovers” among Japanese.

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