Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe called for closer Japan-Taiwan ties by overcoming diplomatic and professional barriers in his first videoconference with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Tuesday night.
Tsai said there are many opportunities for the two nations to collaborate, as Taiwan strives for common goals with like-minded countries such as Japan and the US.
The two also discussed the situation in Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific region.
Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office via CNA
The Presidential Office said the bilateral talk last nearly 30 minutes and was part of an annual meeting of the Japan-ROC Diet Members’ Consultative Council, a cross-party Japanese parliamentary group comprising about 270 members.
At the beginning of their discussion, a full video of which was released by the Presidential Office yesterday, Tsai said she was delighted to meet with Abe virtually as they used to only talk by telephone.
The president thanked Japan for donating vaccines to Taiwan last year during a local outbreak of COVID-19.
Abe thanked Taiwan for its help after a massive earthquake struck Japan on March 11, 2011, and for donating medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tsai said that Taiwan had followed the lead of other countries in allowing the importation of food products banned following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster, showing its determination to remove trade barriers between the two countries.
Taiwan and Japan should join hands to bolster the economic power of the Indo-Pacific region, as economic growth is crucial to a nation’s stability, she added.
Regarding Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Abe said he hoped that Taiwan would meet its high standards and join the bloc soon.
The CPTPP was established by Japan with 10 other countries when Abe was prime minister and is expanding by adding new members.
Regarding the situation in Ukraine, Tsai said that Taiwan had imposed sanctions against Russia and provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine, adding that Taiwan would stand side-by-side with Ukraine, and uphold the values of democracy and freedom.
Abe said Russia’s invasion was a serious challenge to the international order, adding that Japan should cooperate with other countries in pressuring Moscow into a ceasefire and withdrawal.
Echoing Abe’s comments, Tsai condemned Russia for unilaterally changing the “status quo” and infringing on the rights of a democratic country, which must not be allowed in the Indo-Pacific region.
Tsai also thanked Japan for emphasizing the importance of stability across the Taiwan Strait at international events, saying that she hoped the two sides can maintain peace in the region.
Abe advocated for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, whose “status quo” is protected by international law and not altered by military force.
“It is important for Japan and Taiwan to share intelligence to keep the region stable,” Abe said.
Abe expressed his hope to visit Taiwan soon to exchange ideas with the president, who said she looked forward to greeting him in person.
Additional reporting by CNA
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