Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday became the most senior Taiwanese official to visit Japan in five decades when he traveled to Tokyo to offer condolences after the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.
Tokyo broke official ties with Taipei in 1972 and established relations with Beijing.
Lai’s visit was regarded as a part of his “personal itinerary,” based on a tacit understanding between Taiwan and Japan, sources said.
Photo: screen grab from Twitter
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no comment on Lai’s personal schedule.
Japanese TV news footage showed Lai, accompanied by Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), visiting Abe’s residence in Tokyo to offer his condolences.
Lai is scheduled to attend Abe’s funeral today, the sources said.
Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not immediately available for comment.
Although Tokyo has no formal diplomatic ties with Taipei, some senior Japanese officials have become increasingly outspoken in their support for Taiwan in the past few years.
In Taipei, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) offered condolences in a visit to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA) yesterday morning.
Photo: Tien Yu-hua, Taipei Times
Abe, the longest-serving prime minister in Japan, died on Friday at the age of 67 after he was shot in the back that morning while campaigning on the street in the city of Nara for the Diet’s upper house elections held on Sunday. Police arrested a 41-year-old male suspect who allegedly shot Abe with a homemade shotgun.
Tsai has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff yesterday to honor Abe, who was widely considered in Taiwan to have contributed to bilateral ties.
Tsai yesterday said she was offering condolences to Abe’s family of behalf of the government and the people of Taiwan.
She said she clearly remembers Abe’s warm smile and greetings as they spoke during an online meeting in March, adding that they had expressed the hope of meeting in person soon.
“Thank you for your contribution to the friendship between Taiwan and Japan as well as to the world’s democracy, freedom, human rights and peace,” Tsai wrote on a memorial wall set up by the JTEA.
Abe will be “the good friend of Taiwan forever,” she wrote.
Tsai was accompanied at the JTEA by Presidential Office Secretary-General David Lee (李大維) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮). They were welcomed by Japanese Representative to Taiwan Mitsuo Ohashi.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) separately visited the JTEA to offer their condolences.
Su said he was grateful for Abe’s assistance in facilitating the donation of millions of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses from Japan to Taiwan last year, when Taiwan was facing a shortage of vaccines.
Abe repeatedly voiced his support for Taiwan whenever the nation faced political suppression by China, even saying the US and Japan could not idly stand by if Taiwan were attacked by China, Su said.
You said he met with Abe several times when he visited Japan, adding that the former prime minister received him in person.
Even when the Democratic Progressive Party was in opposition from 2000 to 2008, Abe still received him in his office, You said, adding that the gesture touched him.
CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT: A new committee would investigate a backlog of US weapons sales to Taiwan, said its chairman, US Representative Mike Gallagher The US should formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, and end its outdated and counterproductive “one China” policy, US Representative Tom Tiffany and 18 other US lawmakers wrote in a petition. “It is time to change the status quo and recognize the reality denied by the US government for decades: Taiwan is an independent nation,” Tiffany told the Epoch Times. “As our long-standing and valued partner, correctly acknowledging their independence from communist China is long overdue.” The resolution also asks the administration of US President Joe Biden to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations and to negotiate a bilateral free-trade
GUT FEELING: In the leaked memo, US Air Force General Mike Minihan urged mobile command personnel to go to a firing range, shoot at a target and ‘aim for the head’ A four-star US Air Force general has warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025 — most likely over Taiwan — and urged his commanders to push their units to achieve maximum operational battle readiness this year. In an internal memorandum that first emerged on social media on Friday, and was later confirmed as genuine by the Pentagon, Air Mobility Command Commander General Mike Minihan said that the main goal should be to deter “and, if required, defeat” China. “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” Minihan said. Minihan said that Taiwan’s presidential election
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would