Wed, Jan 22, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan’s CPTPP bid worth backing: ex-Japan official

Staff writer, with CNA, TOKYO

A former Japanese representative to Taiwan has urged his country to support Taiwan’s admission to a free-trade agreement between Canada and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Judging by Taiwan’s economic scale and geopolitical importance in the Taiwan Strait, it is fully eligible to become a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), said Tadashi Ikeda, former chief representative of the Interchange Association’s, Taipei office.

The association, now called the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, represents Japan’s interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, which ended in 1972.

The CPTPP came into being after US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), soon after he took office in January 2017.

Taiwan had hoped to join the TPP, which was signed in February 2016, but was not ratified.

Commenting on Taiwan’s Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections, Ikeda said that Japan respected the public’s opinion.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) defeated Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate, winning 57.1 percent of the vote compared with Han’s 38.6 percent, while her Democratic Progressive Party retained its legislative majority, taking 61 seats.

Ikeda said he felt the elections were an opportunity for voters to judge Tsai’s performance over the past four years, but he felt their major focus was on how Taiwan should keep its distance from China.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) proposal to apply Beijing’s “one country, two systems” formula to Taiwan aroused fear that Taiwan could be annexed by China and fueled support for Tsai, he said.

Taiwan is an important partner for Japan, with shared values and close economic ties, Ikeda said, adding that the two nations should further bolster their substantive unofficial ties.

Japan should throw its support behind Taiwan’s bid to join the Japan-led CPTPP, while the two nations should engage in closer security exchanges and dialogue, and promote exchanges between government officials, he said.

Taiwan and Japan should discuss protecting each other’s harbors and bays in the event of an emergency, and talks should be held to come up with measures to respond to cyberattacks, he said.

Senior Taiwanese officials could make transit stops in Osaka, Japan, when visiting allies in the Pacific, Ikeda added.

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