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Monday, June 11, 2007

In the news ニュース

Today's Japan Times is carrying an article entitled "Aso defends Lee's visit to Yasukuni" :

"Japanese Foreign Minister 外相 Taro Aso 麻生太郎 said Sunday that he sees no problem with former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui's 李登輝 visit Thursday to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine 靖国神社 in Tokyo 東京, dismissing criticism from China about Lee's recent trip to Japan.

'Mr. Lee is 84 years old and has retired to private life,' Aso said in a speech in Sendai 仙台, northeastern Japan. 'His elder brother is honored at Yasukuni Shrine and I wonder what problem there is in his having visited it while he is still healthy.'"

To quote Teddy Roosevelt, bully for Aso. It's reassuring to see the Japanese government seemingly understands that there is no conflict between adhering to the so-called "One China" 一つの中国 principle and maintaining diplomatic relations with China, while at the same time allowing Lee to exercise the same freedoms of speech 言論の自由 and religion 信仰の自由 that are permitted to all other visitors to Japan. Then again, seeing as last week a prominent Chinese dissident, Wei Jingsheng 魏京生, was denied entry into Japan to attend an event marking the Tiananmen Square crackdown 六四天安門事件, it might be more a case of the government of Prime Minister 総理大臣 Shinzo Abe 安倍晋三 letting the Chinese government know there are limits to how far Japan can be pushed around on the Yasukuni/Taiwan issues.

In any event, there's a great irony here: Taiwan's best friends, both in Japan and the United States, are often the kind of conservative, reactionary politicians you would never vote for back home.

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