Taiwanese opposition leader Ma Ying-jeou will visit Japan next week for the first time since taking the helm of the Kuomintang (KMT), or Nationalist Party, nearly a year ago. Top of his diplomatic agenda: to dispel widely held concerns in Tokyo that he harbors anti-Japan sentiments.The article contains a rundown of Ma's many foul-ups on Japan that have led observers to conclude that he is anti-Japanese:
As such, many Taiwanese are said to harbor pro-Japanese sentiments. Some Taiwanese even think that Japan's 1895-1945 colonial rule in the region has contributed to the island's current economic prosperity through the universities, roads and other infrastructure the Japanese left behind. According to a recent survey by the Taiwanese business magazine Global Review, Japan topped the list of countries that Taiwanese would prefer to emigrate, travel or think is the "greatest". Former President Lee was staunchly pro-Japan and even defended Koizumi's Yasukuni visits.
However, not everyone in Taiwan shares those favorable sentiments, including elements inside the KMT which favor closer ties with Beijing. Earlier this year, the KMT fumed when Japanese and Taiwanese groups jointly erected a monument in a Taipei suburb honoring thousands of indigenous Taiwanese who died while fighting for the Japanese Imperial Army in Southeast Asia. Most of the monument was ordered dismantled by local KMT officials a few weeks later. Ma reportedly described the incident as a good example of the emotions that could be unleashed if embracing Japan goes too far. Taiwanese who revel in the Japanese colonial period are still "brainwashed," he said.
Ma has waded into the emotionally-charged issue of Chinese and other Asian women forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army soldiers. And he has taken a hard-line stance on territorial disputes over the Senkaku islands - or Diaoyutai Islands in Chinese - in the East China Sea, which are claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan. He has also complained Japan should recognize its aggressive history in mainland China. This has led some observers to the conclusion that the KMT and Beijing are cobbling together a sort of united front against Japan.
Ma has consistently denied that he is an anti-Japanese hardliner. At a meeting in January with Japanese journalists based in Taipei, Ma claimed that he is not singling out Japan's historical aggression. He said he is also critical of his own KMT's past "White Terror" crackdown on political dissidents as well as Beijing's 1989 military suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. Ma also expressed his dissatisfaction with news reports that his KMT is taking concerted action with mainland China against Japan. " I like sashimi, too," he said, while going on to mention his opposition to Koizumi's Yasukuni visits.
Taiwanese who like Japan are "brainwashed." Can an anti-Japanese, pro-China mainlander lead part of a security arrangement centered on Taiwan and aimed at China? Don't think so. Meanwhile Ma's rival Wang Jin-lyng is currently off in Japan where he discussed Japan's recognition of Taiwanese driver's licenses and other issues related to Taiwan-Japan affairs.
[Taiwan] [Japan] [Chen Shui-bian] [Democracy] [DPP] [Ma Ying-jeou] [KMT] [PFP]