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Saturday, May 14, 2011

In the news

From Friday's online edition of Japan Today ("300-strong T'ái​wān tourism delegation visits Hokkaidō, Kyōdō News 共同通信社

"A 300-strong T'ái​wān​ 台灣 tourism delegation led by Wang Jin-pyng (Wáng​ Chīn-​p'íng) 王金平​, president of the island’s Legislative Yuan 立法院 or parliament, arrived in Hokkaidō 北海道 on Thursday to help rehabilitate Japan’s tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the March 11 earthquake, tsunami 津波 and subsequent nuclear crisis.

'I want to send a strong message to Taiwanese people that Hokkaidō is safe and they can visit here at ease,' Wang told a news conference in Sapporo 札幌.

The delegation is visiting at the request of Hokkaidō Governor Harumi Takahashi 高橋はるみ, who has been seeking to restore tourism in the northern island, as T'ái​wān is Hokkaidō’s top source of foreign tourists, accounting for almost a quarter of all foreign visitors.

In fiscal 2009, the number of Taiwanese who visited Hokkaidō came to around 180,000.

While in Hokkaidō, Wang’s delegation will visit Sapporo, Kushiro 釧路 and Otaru 小樽.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization 国際観光振興機構, T'ái​wān accounted for the second-largest group of foreign tourists to Japan last year, totaling almost 1.14 million. The largest number of tourists came from South Korea."

Wang is a significant figure in local politics here. Not only does he hold the powerful position of parliamentary president, he is also the biggest rival to President Ma Ying-jeou (Mǎ​ Yīng​-chiǔ​) 馬英九 within the ruling Kuó​mín​tǎng 中國國民黨. Wang represents the party's pro-localization faction, i.e. those KMT members who were born and raised on this island, and can speak the Taiwanese dialect known as Hoklo (T'ái​yǔ) 台語. This often pits him against the "mainlanders" (​wài​shěng​jén​) 外省人, who still hold many positions of power and influence in the ruling party. Wang also has close ties to the Japanese political class, and he is a frequent visitor to Japan, often on missions to repair once-close ties that have been damaged in recent years by Ma's pro-China policies.

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