Japanese ex-minister visits roots

By Wang Han-ping and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 - Page 5

Former Japanese Government Revitalization minister Murata Renho, who was born in Japan to a Taiwanese father and a Japanese mother, paid a visit to Greater Tainan’s Paiho District (白河) on Wednesday on a trip in search of her family roots.

Born Hsieh Lien-fang (謝蓮舫) in Tokyo in 1967, Renho was accompanied by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Mark Chen (陳唐山), her mother and her twin children as she embarked on a long-awaited journey into her past.

Renho was given a warm welcome by Paiho residents with bursts of crackers when she arrived at Fu-an Temple (福安宮), a Matsu temple in the district.

After paying tribute to the goddess of the sea, Renho headed to the main destination of her trip, a photography studio on the district’s Jhongshan Road that used to be a clinic where her grandfather practiced medicine.

Although the clinic has since been replaced, Renho’s unexpected encounter with an 89-year-old man, Wu Ming-ho (吳明和), who used to be one of her grandfather’s patients, brought a satisfactory conclusion to her trip.

“I’m glad to finally be able to realize my dream of searching for my family roots,” Renho said, after she exchanged greetings and made brief conversation with Wu in Japanese.

Renho said she had never expected to one day visit Paiho, where her father was believed to have lived, adding that as the place was renowned for lotus flowers, her father chose the word lien (蓮) — which means “lotus” in Mandarin — as her first name.

Greater Tainan City Councilor Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) of the DPP said that since Chen was a relative of Renho, he was charged with arranging her entire itinerary.

Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) also received Renho in person, lauding her as “the pride of Tainan and Taiwan” and invited her to visit the nation more often.