President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that he hopes that amid increasingly close relations between Taiwan and Japan, bilateral economic and trade ties can be improved. Ma made the remarks while hosting a luncheon for a 36-member Japanese parliamentary delegation led by Takeo Hiranuma, president of the Japan-Republic of China Diet Members’ Consultative Council, a pro-Taiwan parliamentary group in the Japanese Diet, that is in Taipei to attend Double Ten National Day celebrations.
Ma said Taiwan was pleased that Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Ma said that since he took office, he has defined Taiwan-Japan relations as a special partnership.
During the period, Taiwan inked an agreement on a youth working holiday program and a memorandum of understanding on industry cooperation and exchanges with Japan.
It set up a representative office in Sapporo, while launching flights between Taipei International Airport (Songshan) and Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport in October 2010. Taiwan and Japan also signed an open skies agreement in November 2011.
Among the biggest successes was a Taiwan-Japan fishery agreement signed in April to end a controversy over fishing grounds in waters surrounding the contested Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) — known as the Senkakus Islands in Japan — in the East China Sea. The pact has laid a solid foundation for peace in the East China Sea area and has won wide acclaim from the international community, Ma said.
He noted that with the assistance of the Japan-ROC Diet Members’ Consultative Council, Japan’s Diet passed a bill governing the display of foreign artworks that will allow exhibits of ancient Chinese artifacts from the National Palace Museum to be shown in Japan next year.
In terms of tourism exchanges between Taiwan and Japan, Ma said a record 3 million people traveled between the two countries last year and that the number is expected to exceed 3.5 million this year and 4 million by 2016.
Since relations between Taiwan and Japan have grown stronger, and since both nations are likely to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the two sides should further enhance their economic and trade relations, Ma said.