Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba yesterday delivered a written statement to the people of Taiwan saying that the Japanese government expects that the pragmatic and cooperative relationship which exists between the two countries will continue to develop solidly.
Japan and Taiwan are neighboring countries and it is unavoidable they have some unresolved issues due to their proximity, Gemba said in the statement which was written in Mandarin and published on the Web site of the Interchange Association, Japan — the de facto Japanese embassy in Taiwan given the absence of official diplomatic ties.
Nevertheless, what is important is how to find solutions to pending issues that can take the whole picture into account, Gemba said.
Gemba added that both Japan and Taiwan have to make genuine efforts to exchange views and react to one other in a rational way to avoid any single issue negatively affecting the overall bilateral relationship which exists between the neighboring states.
In his statement, Gemba did not specify the pending issues to which he referred, but it was presumably a nod to competing sovereignty claims both countries maintain over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), currently under the effective control of Japan, where the island chain is known as the Senkakus.
As a foreign minister, Gemba said that safety of Japanese expatriates is one of the issues that concerns him most. That Japanese expatriates and Japanese tourists live and travel safely in Taiwan shows that Taiwan is a mature society and the friendship towards Japanese is deeply rooted in Taiwan, he said.
Gemba said he appreciated that people in Taiwan have been behaving in a rational and friendly way toward Japanese in Taiwan and hoped that Japanese expatriates could continue to live in the country without fear for their safety.
He mentioned in the statement President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) recent proposal of the East China Sea peace initiative and the ensuing guidelines he put foreward, which were aimed at peacefully resolving the ongoing dispute over a series of islets also claimed by China.
Although some contents of the peace initiative and the guidelines were unacceptable to Japan, the country realized the proposals were meant to ensure peace and stability in the East China Sea region because that remains in the interests of all concerned parties, he said.
It remains Japan’s strong desire that there should be no event that could escalate future tensions, Gemba said.
Gemba said Japan shares Taiwan’s expectations that both sides can reopen talks on fishing rights in the region and to begin constructive dialogue on those issues of concern to both sides.