Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and a DPP delegation arrived in Tokyo yesterday for a five-day visit to promote closer bilateral ties with Japan.
Su delivered a speech to Taiwanese expatriates in Japan about the importance of bilateral ties between political parties, think tanks and lawmakers in the first stop of his visit, which is the first overseas trip he has made since he assumed the party leadership in May last year.
Speaking to reporters at Taipei International Airport (Songshan Airport) yesterday morning, Su said he was to meet with Japanese politicians and academics to discuss a wide range of issues, but declined to confirm if the territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) — known as the Senkakus in Japan — would be included.
The chairman also reiterated that he had no plans to meet with Japan Restoration Party leader Shintaro Ishihara during his visit.
Several DPP members criticized Su after media reports said he planned to meet Ishihara, a right-wing politician who initiated a spat over the islands by proposing that Japan nationalize them.
The party dismissed the reports, saying that Su did not plan to meet with the former Tokyo governor.
Former representative to Japan Koh Se-kai (許世楷), who now serves as the DPP’s international affairs consultant, Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠), director of the DPP’s Department of International Affairs, and Lin Wan-i (林萬億), executive director of the DPP’s think tank, are part of Su’s 30-member delegation.
The delegation includes DPP legislators Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌), Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) and Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤), as well as staff and reporters.
Due to Su’s busy schedule, a planned visit to the Democratic Party of Japan’s (LDP) headquarters and a meeting with Bunmei Ibuki, the speaker of Japan’s lower house of parliament, were canceled.
Su is to visit the Liberal Democratic Party’s headquarters and meet with Japanese Senator Nobuo Kishi — the brother of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — today, and plans to meet with Japanese Speaker of the Upper House Takeo Hiranuma and Japanese Senator Takeo Hiranuma, who also serves as president of Japan-Republic Of China Diet Members’ Consultative Council, tomorrow, Liu said.
Su is expected to meet LDP think tank president Taku Yamasaki, a former Japanese minister of defense, on Wednesday and return to Taipei on Thursday evening.
Although Su tried to downplay the Diaoyutais issue, the delegation is expected to engage in discussion about the dispute during the visit.
Su said the DPP opposed collaborating with Beijing on the sovereignty dispute in a meeting with American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt on Friday.
“Collaboration with Beijing on the issue does not serve Taiwan’s strategic interests in the region,” Su told Burghardt.
Su said that when it was in power between 2000 and 2008, the DPP set aside the territorial dispute to promote the interests of Taiwanese fishermen by holding more than a dozen fisheries talks with Tokyo.