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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In the news ニュース

I've been back in the U.S. (Bremerton, Washington to be exact) for three days now, and haven't done much of anything other than catch up on repeats of "South Park", "Seinfeld" and "Family Guy". Ah, bliss. If only I could retire early, and spend my days like this. The weather here is cold, but the air is fresh, and this morning the skies have cleared up enough to offer great views of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains in the distance. My sister and nephew are coming over tonight, and tomorrow evening everyone will be going out for Thanksgiving dinner. It's times like this I wonder why I ever left the States for Asia.

Or at least Japan for Taiwan, as the former actually has cold, snowy winters. Speaking of Taiwan, the Daily Yomiuri has an article in its November 21 edition on Ma Ying-jeou's 馬英九 current visit to Japan ("Taiwan opposition presidential candidate Ma wants to boost ties with Japan" http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_GEN_JAPAN_TAIWAN_ASOL-?SITE=YOMIURI&SECTION=HOSTED_ASIA&TEMPLATE=ap_national.html:

"Taiwan should establish a free trade pact with Japan to boost bilateral economic and cultural ties, a Taiwanese presidential candidate said Wednesday during a trip aimed at bolstering his relations with Tokyo.

Ma Ying-jeou, of the main opposition Nationalist Party 中国国民党, said in a speech at a Japanese university that he also hoped to have frequent, high-level contacts with the Japanese government should he win the March elections.

'When I get elected, I will give Taiwan a new lens to look at the bilateral ties and improve exchanges in the private sector,' Taiwan's state-owned Central News Agency quoted Ma as saying at Doshisha University 同志社大学 in Kyoto 京都."

Comforting words, but as the story goes on to point out, Ma isn't trusted in Japanese circles:

"Ma has had to work to convince Japan that he harbors none of the anti-Japanese sentiments he expressed during heated protests in the 1970s against Japan's claim on a small chain of islands in the East China Sea also claimed by Taiwan and China."

The last time Ma was in Japan, he gave a speech promoting Japanese-Taiwanese friendship to Japanese reporters, and then, in true Ma fashion, made a number of anti-Japanese remarks to the Taiwanese media immediately afterward. The article then remarks:

"Ma...acknowledged 'some unpleasant fragments of history between Japan and Taiwan,' referring to Japan's wartime colonial rule of the island in the first half of the 1900s..."

Actually, seeing as how many TAIWANESE people tend to compare Japan's governance of Taiwan favorably in comparison to its domination by the post-1945 corrupt mainlander-dominated KMT dictatorship, Ma's remarks reveal how he seems to look at things from a CHINESE perspective, a perception reinforced by a later paragraph from the Yomiuri story:

"On Tuesday in Taipei 台北, Ma urged Taiwan to strengthen business partnerships with Japanese companies to jointly develop the Chinese market..."

Perhaps I'm taking his words out of context, but I would think a prominent Taiwanese politician (not to mention presidential candidate) would be encouraging Japanese companies to invest more in the TAIWANESE MARKET.

One other thing that struck me from the story was this:

"A visit by a Taiwanese political leader is a sensitive issue for Japan...China regularly opposes visits by Taiwanese officials to countries with which it has diplomatic ties."

That's true, but in contrast to visits to Japan by Lee Teng-hui 李登輝, I haven't read of any complaints by the Chinese government over Ma's trip.

Go figure...

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