This year has been “the year of Taiwan,” as more countries have stood up to support the free and democratic nation, Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Representative Hiroyasu Izumi said yesterday.
Izumi made the remarks at a Christmas fair outside the Taipei 101 building, which was part of a series of events to mark Taiwan-Japan friendship.
Izumi said that on Jan. 23, he saw the slogan “Japan-Taiwan friendship” in Chinese displayed on Taipei 101, lighting up bilateral relations.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
In March, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association and the Ministry of Culture cohosted an exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, demonstrating their robust bonds, he said.
When the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines donated by Japan arrived in Taiwan, Izumi was grateful that Japan could finally use its own means to help Taiwan in return for Taiwan’s aid following the 2011 earthquake, he said.
When Japan was facing its most severe outbreaks of the pandemic, Taiwan donated medical equipment to assist the country’s medical personnel, he added.
During the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japanese and Taiwanese athletes were able to cheer for each other’s teams, transcending the divide between competitors, he said.
Many Japanese have been discussing on social media why they cannot have Taiwanese pineapples in the winter, which shows that bilateral relations are propped up by people, he said.
“The world will remember Japan and Taiwan in 2021,” Izumi said.
It is not only Taiwan-Japan ties are warming, he said, adding that more support for a free and democratic Taiwan can be heard across the world.
As Japan’s envoy to Taiwan, Izumi said he feels proud to see Taiwan securing more friends.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association’s establishment, he said.
Formerly known as the Interchange Association, Japan, the de facto embassy was renamed in 2017.
In the next 50 years, Japan and Taiwan are sure to continue being friendly neighbors, he added.
Asked about Taiwan’s ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster, Izumi said the ban is irrelevant to Taiwan’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Nevertheless, he said that farmers in Fukushima Prefecture are working hard on food safety.
Taiwan is responsible for its own food safety issues, while Japan adheres to international and scientific standards, he added.
Taiwan and Japan are discussing the matter, and Japan is waiting to see if Taiwan removes the ban, Izumi said.
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