I knew something like this would happen. My wife went out for lunch this afternoon with a friend, and took the camera with her. So I knew that when I went to Chung-cheng (Jhong-jheng) Park 正中公園 today to get some much-needed exercise, I was going to see something that would make me wish Pamela hadn't taken the camera with her. Sure enough, while I was walking along one of the trails, I came across a long, brownish-grayish snake stretched across the path. At first, I thought it might have been dead as it didn't move when I approached, but then I saw its head poking around in the brush. I watched it for a few seconds, all the while wishing I were able to record the moment, and post the picture here. Then, not wanting to step over a possibly poisonous creature (I hear conflicting information all the time about which snakes in Taiwan are deadly, and which are not), I stomped my feet a couple of times on the ground, which in turn caused the snake to quickly slither away. It truly was a beautiful beast, but as Pamela later pointed out, had I had the camera with me, the snake would not have been there in the first place. I couldn't argue with logic like that.
Speaking of snakes, the reptilian KMT 中国国民党 features in another Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ article by Max Hirsch of Kyōdō News 共同通信社, "Ties sour but will sweeten: Taiwan speaker" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080827a5.html:
"Taiwan's relations with Japan have regressed since the Nationalist Party came to power, but they are likely to rebound, parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng (Oū Kimpei) 王金平 said in an interview. 'Relations were at their highest because of the government of the Democratic Progressive Party 民主進歩党 . . . and suddenly the (Nationalist Party) came to power and so many problems have emerged — it's like relations relapsed significantly in an instant,' Wang told foreign media after returning from Japan on a fence-mending visit earlier this month. His comments mark the second time a top Taiwanese politician has openly warned of deteriorating relations between T'aipei and Tōkyō. Nationalist Party Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (Go Hakuyū) 呉伯雄 said in July 'cracks' had begun to appear in the relationship."
It is pretty rare for any KMT official, particularly one as high up in the party as Wang, to credit the DPP with anything, especially in comparison with his own party's performance. Sending two party heavyweights in consecutive months on fence-mending tours to Japan seems to suggest there might be a schism developing among the ruling Nationalists over how to approach relations with Tōkyō:
"'The purpose,' (Wang) said, 'was to clear up some misunderstandings with Tōkyō.' A longtime backer of Japan, Wang met with some 40 Diet 国会 members and government officials who 'all have the impression President Ma Ying-jeou (Ba Eikyū) 馬英九 is anti-Japan and pro-China.' Japanese power brokers, Wang said, are also worried over why Ma had stalled in appointing the de facto ambassador to Japan. 'Almost all those whom I had met asked about this problem,' he added...Fueling worries that Ma had neglected Japan was his failure to quickly appoint an envoy after T'aipei's last top representative to Tōkyō quit in mid-July. Only last week did the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry announce the appointment of former Ambassador to the Dominican Republic John Feng to the Japan post. The move is seen as underscoring Ma's emphasis on healthy relations with Japan because Feng is a senior diplomat and Nationalist Party heavyweight."
Ma is "anti-Japan" and "pro-China"? Where would anybody get that kind of idea?:
"Asked what had sparked the sudden downturn in bilateral ties, Wang cited a boat collision in disputed waters in the East China Sea 東シナ海. On June 10, a Japan Coast Guard 海上保安庁 vessel chased and rammed a Taiwanese fishing boat near the Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島, an uninhabited chain of Japan-administered islets also claimed by Taiwan...No serious injuries were reported, but the collision touched off a diplomatic row that led to Ma recalling T'aipei's then-envoy to Tōkyō Koh Se-kai 許世楷. And Taiwanese Prime Minister Liu Chao-shiuan (Ryū Chōgen) 劉兆絃 threatened 'war' to solve sovereignty disputes over the Senkakus."
War. The prime minister, the head of government in Taiwan, threatened to go to war with Japan, apparently unaware that doing so would get the United States involved, thanks to a little piece of paper known simply as the "Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan" 日本国とアメリカ合衆国との間の相互協力及び安全保障条約, which obligates the U.S. to come to the aid of Japan in the event any territory under the jurisdiction of the Japanese government comes under attack. And that includes the Senkakus, which should not be a surprise to Liu as it was the United States that administered the Senkaku Islands between 1945 and 1972, and included them in the reversion of Okinawa 沖縄. And if the Chinese Nationalists thought they could depend on their comrades in China, the response from Beijing was muted during the crisis. Instead, the Chinese carried on with business as usual with Japan, even allowing a port call by a Japanese warship. Which is why people like Wang now feel the need to make visits to Taiwan's former colonial rulers in an attempt to fix the damage caused by some of their fellow KMT members:
"Further hurting the relationship, Wang said, is the widespread perception in Japan that Ma failed to address issues pertaining to Tōkyō soon after taking office. In fact, Ma's May 20 inaugural speech turned heads for its lack of a reference to Tōkyō, even though a government insider told a reporter before the inauguration there would be a significant mention of the U.S.-Japan Defense Alliance in the speech. Supposedly, Ma removed the reference before taking the podium."
Me thinks Wang's got his work cut out for him back home.