Han slammed for lacking diplomatic decorum

CROSS-CULTURAL OOPSY::University of Tokyo political science professor Yasuhiro Matsuda said it was hard to understand the Kaohsiung mayor’s way of doing things

By Ko Yu-hao  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Sep 08, 2019 - Page 3

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) took criticism yesterday for a lack of diplomatic etiquette after he joked on Friday about having waited for “25 minutes” for a meeting with a visiting Japanese delegation.

Han raised the ire of his Japanese guests after claiming that he was on time for the meeting with delegation members.

University of Tokyo political science professor Yasuhiro Matsuda on Friday posted on Facebook to refute Han’s claim, saying that the delegation had been late because of an unannounced venue change for the meeting with Han.

“It is hard to comprehend Mayor Han and his team’s ways of doing things,” Matsuda wrote.

Han, who arranged the meeting, changed the venue at the last minute and blamed the guests for being late, which was “evil,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) said yesterday.

“However, being evil is not the worst thing — being stupid is,” she added.

Liu said that Han showed his stupidity by proposing a group photograph after his speech without giving delegation members a chance to speak, a move that completely ignored basic courtesy, and by inviting a group comprised of experts on cross-strait relations from the University of Tokyo, with members chiefly specializing in international relations and comparative politics.

Han’s main points in his speech to the group were his hopes that more Japanese would make films in Kaohsiung and that they would send their baseball teams to the municipality for winter training, Liu said.

Given the visit by the highly regarded academics, it might be expected that Tokyo hopes to gain insight into political and economic developments in Taiwan and what effects they could have on the Asia-Pacific region, she said.

As such, it was not difficult to understand why Matsuda made the comment on Facebook, as Han’s ignorance was simply embarrassing, she added.

Yesterday, in response to media queries for comments, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that officials should be discreet and follow international rules of courtesy when receiving foreign dignitaries who are visiting to learn about Taiwanese affairs.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that Han should have immediately apologized if there was any difficulty in meeting his guests due to a venue change, so he would set a good example for Taiwanese instead of embarrassing himself.

As a presidential hopeful, Han must be more mindful of his behavior, Su added.

The Kaohsiung City Government reiterated that Han apologized to the Japanese guests in a livestream on Friday night and stressed that they “had not been tardy at all.”

He said that hopefully the misunderstanding would not affect Kaohsiung’s future exchanges with Japanese academics.

There was no point for Liu to resort to personal attacks to make herself seem “more high-class,” the city government added yesterday.