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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In the news...still

Lizards were out in force this afternoon in Dakeng. Alas, no monkeys this time

It's the story that hasn't gone away yet. "Tōkyō irks Taipei, says Taiwan status 'up in air'" says the Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ (Kyōdō News 共同通信社):

"Taiwan on Monday protested comments made by the top Japanese diplomat that its political status was up in the air, threatening to dent relations between the island and its former colonial ruler. Meanwhile Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party 中國國民黨 caucus called for the island's Cabinet to list Japan's chief representative in Taipei 台北 as persona non grata over the envoy's remarks on the island's sovereignty."

"Taiwan ruling party demands ouster of Japan de facto ambassador" reports Kyōdō News in an article carried by Japan Today:

"Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party caucus called Monday for the island’s cabinet to list Japan’s chief representative in Taipei as persona non grata over the envoy’s remarks on the island’s sovereignty. The caucus made the demand in a formal letter asking for the expulsion of Masaki Saitō, who directs Japan’s Interchange Association, Tōkyō’s 東京 representative office in Taipei in the absence of official relations. The letter came as dozens of protesters gathered at the association to either slam or support Saitō over remarks he made on the weekend, infuriating the government with a gaffe that has threatened to derail bilateral ties. Speaking at a symposium in southern Taiwan on Friday, Saitō said Taiwan’s international status remained unresolved...Tōkyō officially maintains it gave up all claims of sovereignty over Taiwan—which it had ruled from 1895-1945—in the San Francisco Peace Treaty 日本国との平和条約 of 1951. However, Tōkyō never stated to which party sovereignty over the island should go. For his part, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou 馬英九 insists Japan legally transferred sovereignty over to Taiwan to the KMT-founded Republic of China 中華民, or ROC—a notion that, in the Ma administration’s view, underpins the island’s sovereignty as the ROC. Dozens of pro-KMT protesters gathered at the Interchange Association, demanding an apology from Tōkyō, while pro-independence advocates rallied at the association in support of Saitō."

According to the Taipei Times, it's all to be expected, for "It’s Japan-bashing season again":

"Once again, the Ma administration is trying to pick a fight with Tōkyō over a small incident. This time, the irritant is trivial. But just as with the Diaoyutai incident, when it comes to Japan, apologies are never enough when the KMT casts itself as the epitome of patriotism. Regardless of whether Saitō’s remarks were his opinion — which he said they were — or that of the Japanese government (which it isn’t), there was nothing 'damaging' in what was said. The US government’s 'acknowledgment' of Beijing’s 'One China' policy is just as much an admission of Taiwan’s unresolved status as Saitō’s comments, as is the position of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and many multilateral institutions that Taiwan cannot officially join, or must join under a different name. It’s fine for the WHO and other bodies to insult Taiwan and refer to it as 'Chinese Taipei,' 中華台北 but when it comes to Japan, one faux pas leads to a diplomatic row. It’s fine for Beijing to deny Taiwan’s existence or threaten it with an 'Anti-Secession' Law 反分裂國家法...but when a Japanese uses the wrong words, we castigate him and poison our relations with Tōkyō. It’s getting clearer by the day: Despite Ma’s rhetoric, the deeds of his government are betraying a clear shift in Beijing’s favor and, in the process, the calculated alienation of Tōkyō."

One area in which the KMT has failed miserably is in trying to inculcate a strong anti-Japanese sentiment among the Taiwanese public, but that hasn't stopped it from trying. The Kuomintang arrived in Taiwan bearing the memories and scars of the 1937-1945 Sino-Japanese War 日中戦争, but the authoritarianism, corruption and inefficiency of the subsequent decades only served to make the Japanese colonial period from 1895-1945 look all the more better in comparison among many Taiwanese. The younger generation, too young to recall 228 二二八事件, the White Terror 台灣白色恐怖時期 and martial law, simply finds Japanese popular culture to be the epitome of cool, and unabashedly emulates as much of it as they can. All that righteous indignation by Chinese super-patriots hasn't put a dent in the numbers of Taiwanese visitors to Japan (nor that of Japanese to the former colony). And where else in Asia but Taiwan would people demonstrate in SUPPORT of a Japanese official's remarks? In short, it seems all the calculated outrage over matters such as the Senkakus 尖閣諸島 and Saitō is aimed at the party's hardcore faithful, and is pretty much ignored by the general public.

And even during all this furor over the Japanese envoy's obviously factual remarks, cooler heads within the government appear to be prevailing, at least judging by the this Kyōdō News article in Japan Today, "Protest voyage from Taiwan to Senkakus canceled":

"A planned protest voyage from Taiwan to the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands has been called off amid pressure from the government, a trip organizer said Monday, just hours before the scheduled departure. Some 40 pro-China activists who dispute Japan’s claims of sovereignty over the East China Sea 東シナ海 islets—called Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan—scuppered their voyage after the owner of the boat slated for the journey backed out of an agreement to rent them the vessel, said Huang Hsi-lin, a municipal council member in Taipei County (Taihoku-ken) 台北縣. 'The boat owner was under tremendous pressure to not go through with renting the boat to us,' Huang said by phone, referring to political pressure applied by Taipei to prevent the trip from coming to fruition."

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