MOFA hopes upheaval in Japan won't affect ties

FOND FAREWELL: MOFA spokesman David Wang thanked outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for promoting relations with Taiwan


Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 3

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed its hope that Japan would continue to maintain mutually beneficial relations with Taiwan in the future, no matter who the next prime minister is, MOFA spokesman David Wang (王建業) said on Wednesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier on Wednesday had announced his resignation.

Wang expressed gratitude to Abe for his promotion of Taiwan-Japan relations during his term as prime minister and chief Cabinet secretary. Wang said the MOFA fully understood Abe's difficulties in dealing with political entanglements and his intention to resign.

Wang said the new prime minister is very likely to follow the same fundamental policies on Japan-Taiwan, or Japan-China relations and avoid involvement with controversial issues such as visiting the Yasukuni Shrine to prevent worsening relations between Japan and China.

Philip Yang (楊永明), a professor at the Department of Political Science of the National Taiwan University, said that Abe's support rating had dropped from 70 percent to 30 percent within a year.

Yang said the drop in popularity came as a result of Abe's inability to implement policies to address the economy, and his scandal-scarred Cabinet, with four Cabinet ministers forced to resign over the past year.

Lo Fu-cheng (羅福全), Taiwan's former representative to Japan, and chairman of the East Asia Relations Commission, said that Taro Aso, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and a former Japanese foreign Minister, is Abe's most probable successor.

Abe has actively expanded Japan's involvement in international affairs and has made strides in combating terrorism and pursuing regional peace. Japan-Taiwan relations have improved in leaps and bounds during Abe's term, Lo said, quoting President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as saying that Taiwan and Japan have enjoyed their best relations since the two countries ended official diplomatic ties in 1972.

Lo said Aso wrote a book called Arc of Freedom and Prosperity in which he argued for "value-oriented diplomacy" in Japan. The approach would allow Japan to solicit "value alliances" such as those with India and members of ASEAN, which pursue values of freedom and democracy.

If elected prime minister, Aso would likely follow Abe's principles for Japan's international relations, Lo said.

Lo added that Aso might also continue to pursue current policies on Japan-China relations, and urge China to become a "constructive" and "responsible" member of the international community.