Lee planning trip to Japan, health permitting

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter, in Hsinchu City

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - Page 3

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday confirmed that he would visit Japan next month, health permitting, and said that an all-out war waged by North Korea was unlikely.

Kyodo news agency reported yesterday that Lee, 90, would travel to Japan and deliver speeches in Tokyo and Zama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Lee addressed a wide range of issues, including the possibility of a trip to Japan, the North Korean situation and political parties’ cross-strait policies, in a 20-minute media interview in Nanliao (南寮) on the first day of a two-day visit to Hsinchu County.

When asked about a visit to Japan, Lee said it would depend on the result of a medical checkup later this month.

Lee has a chronic heart problem, metabolic arthritis and recently suffered a bout of the flu. If he makes the trip, it would be his sixth visit to Japan since leaving office in 2000, but his first since 2009.

Turning to the recent tensions in Northeast Asia, Lee said anyone who wants to wage a war, in this case North Korea, was not likely to resort to taunts and rhetoric.

Citing the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1996 during his presidency, Lee said that China had not alerted Taiwan prior to launching missiles. He added that North Korea could have hidden agenda behind its threats.

Lee laughed off a report this week by Control Yuan members Chou Yang-shan (周陽山) and Lee Ping-nan (李炳南) that quoted Shih Hsin University adjunct assistant professor Chi Chia-lin (戚嘉林) as saying that Lee was the illegitimate son of a Japanese father.

The accusation was false and those who made it up had a hidden motive, he said.

“I pray to God to forgive their sins and stupidity. Taiwan’s future is more important to me than things like this,” said Lee, a Christian.

Asked if the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party should seek a consensus on their policies toward China, Lee said they may not be able to find common ground, but they “should at least maintain a healthy relationship with each other.”

“Taiwan is Taiwan, China is China,” he said, adding that the most important tasks now are improving people’s livelihoods, and boosting employment and economic growth.

The KMT administration depends on Beijing’s assistance and favor in almost everything, which the DPP finds very hard to accept or emulate, Lee said.

With regards to Washington’s role in cross-strait relations, Lee said the US has always taken positions that serve its own interests and has always adjusted its policy according to the situation.

Lee visited Nanliao Harbor in the afternoon before delivering a speech, titled “Taiwanese in a new age,” at National Chiao Tung University.