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Saturday, October 6, 2007

In the news ニュース

Super Typhoon Krosa has hit Taiwan today, and hit it hard. Even here in Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原, which is normally shielded from the worst of the typhoons by the central mountain range, the wind and rain have been nasty. Needless to say, there was no work today. I ventured out once this morning, to the local Family Mart ファミリーマート to buy a newspaper, and the wind was powerful. The effects are actually worse in the courtyard of our apartment complex - behind our buildings are rice fields, so the wind has been roaring in from the north all day long. I took a short video with my digital camera, but all attempts to post it onto YouTube have so far been futile.

Being confined indoors isn't all bad, however. I got to see Cleveland beat the hated Yankees for the second time this morning, and then spent the afternoon watching "Zodiac" ゾディアック on DVD (good thing I stopped off at Blockbuster last night after work). I also had the pleasure of reading "Fukuda won't forsake Taiwan for China: experts" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071006f2.html, a commentary that appeared in the Japan Times today, written by Max Hirsch. The article begins:

"Taipei's relations with Tokyo will remain strong despite jitters in Taiwan over whether new Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda 福田康夫 will distance his country from the embattled island, experts say."

Hirsch then goes to give the reasons why many experts think Japan-Taiwan relations will remain strong: China's territorial claims in "contested waters" (presumably the Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島) and "security issues", namely the ongoing buildup of China's military. After discussing the recent rockiness in relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, Hirsch concludes his piece by writing:

"Taiwanese officials should...brace themselves for a lull in meetings with high-level Japanese officials as Fukuda courts Beijing, even as unofficial ties between Taiwan and Japan and Taiwan's strategic importance to Tokyo grow, Luo (Chi-cheng, a Japan watcher and director of the independence-advocate Taiwan Thinktank) said.

'Changes will happen in the way high-level officials from Taiwan and Japan interact,' he added.

Fortunately for Taiwan, Fukuda is just as focused on maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as he is on boosting ties with China, said Luo Fu-chuan, Taiwan's former de facto ambassador to Japan in the absence of official diplomatic relations.

'(Fukuda) has always been focused on Asian security. He seeks to employ peaceful means to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait,' he said.

'I can't see any big changes in Japan-Taiwan relations on the horizon,' he added. 'Japan won't sacrifice Taiwan for China.'"

I'm no expert analyst, but I have to agree with Hirsch. Taiwan's geographical proximity and historical ties to Japan, plus the wariness of Chinese intentions that runs deep in Japanese political circles (and to some extent in Japanese society) make it unlikely that Taiwan will be sold out by Tokyo. I wish I had as much faith in my own homeland.

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