A Japanese parliamentary delegation led by former Japanese minister of defense Shigeru Ishiba arrived in Taiwan yesterday.
Speaking to reporters upon arrival at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), Ishiba said that the delegation would hold talks with Taiwanese officials on regional security issues.
The visit is to last until Saturday. Three Japanese lawmakers who had been part of the delegation had to drop out after testing positive for COVID-19.
The four-person delegation would meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Vice President William Lai (賴清德), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and other senior government officials, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
They would also visit the Executive Yuan, the Legislative Yuan, the Ministry of National Defense and local think tanks to exchange views with officials and academics on Taiwan-Japan security issues, it said.
Delegation members would also visit Wuzhi Mountain Military Cemetery in New Taipei City to pay their respects to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). Lee, Taiwan’s first popularly elected president who passed away in 2020 at the age of 97, spoke fluent Japanese and was known for his pro-Japan views.
The delegation also includes former Japanese minister of defense Yasukazu Hamada, former Japanese deputy minister of defense Akihisa Nakashima and Takayuki Shimizu.
Ishiba, Hamada and Nakashima are members of the lower House of Representatives, while Shimizu is a member of the upper House of Councilors.
They are members of a Japanese parliamentarian association on security issues established by Ishiba and Hamada in November 2019, the foreign ministry said.
Ishiba, 65, of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, ran for party chair in 2012, but lost to former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.
Kuo Yu-jen (郭育仁), executive director of the Institute for National Policy Research and an expert on Japanese affairs, told the Central News Agency (CNA) that this is the highest-level Japanese delegation to visit Taiwan since the two countries severed diplomatic ties in 1972.
The visit comes as the Japanese government prepares to publish three defense papers by the end of this year, Kuo said, adding that the trip is likely meant for the lawmakers to evaluate the situation in Taiwan.
Another Japan expert, Wang Tsun-yen (王尊彥) of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, told the CNA that Japan referred to Taiwan as an “extremely important partner” in its annual defense white paper published last week, which has a significantly wider coverage of the Taiwan issue than last year’s paper.
This shows that Tokyo has recognized Taipei’s strategic position in relation to Japan and is putting more emphasis on Taiwan’s security, Wang said.
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