Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou commemorated Friday a Japanese colonial engineer who in 1930 built one of Taiwan’s most effective reservoirs, at a ceremony meant to underscore the island’s friendship with Japan but which also hinted at fresh tensions. Ma honored Yoichi Hatta with bows, flowers and a speech at the engineer’s burial site near the Wusantou Reservoir in southern Tainan County, where the reservoir has tamed waters and kept cropland fertile for nearly 80 years.A key irritant is the Senkaku Islands, which both China and Taiwan discovered they owned in 1969 after Japanese scientists mentioned the possibility of oil beneath and around them.
Ma called the reservoir the foundation for the modernization of Taiwan’s agricultural industry. Although Mr Hatta’s work came amid Japan’s colonial rule over Taiwan, we should recognize the contributions some colonial officials made to the island,’’ he said, adding, ‘‘Although Taiwan and Japan broke off official relations in 1972, in the past 30 years our exchanges have nonetheless flourished.’’
The island claims the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, referred to in Taiwan as the Tiaoyutai, where the Japanese patrol boat rammed and sank the fishing vessel. Taiwanese Premier Liu Chao-shiuan threatened Japan with war over the uninhabited islets, which boast abundant fishery resources and, possibly, oil and natural gas deposits under the seabed.If you read carefully the pattern of threat/trouble followed by conciliation followed by threat/trouble dominates. Su Chi's scuppering of the flotilla's protest in the Senkakus is Taipei's way of letting Tokyo know it could be rambunctious, but chose not to, so Japan really ought to turn up nice now. Note also that by making trouble in the Senkakus, the KMT is doing Beijing's dirty work for it -- just as it caused trouble in the overseas Tibetan independence movement to preserve Tibet for China. This is an old pattern.
Since the collision, however, Ma has tended to shift the debate from that of sovereignty issues involving the Senkakus and surrounding waters to fishing access rights, while strengthening air, tourism and cultural links with Japan.
Last week, Ma’s top security adviser Su Chi met with protesters and boat owners who had planned to sail to the Senkakus in a protest trip to persuade them to cancel the voyage.
Su told the protesters the trip would cause unnecessary friction with Japan as Ma seeks to boost relations with Tokyo, a trip organizer told Kyodo News.
Behind-the-scenes lobbying to scupper the trip and Ma’s commemoration of Hatta point to Taipei’s continued desire to improve relations with Tokyo despite Saito’s falling out of favor with the Ma administration.
Japan has to be conciliated if the sell-out is to take place, because, as a recent poll shows, Japanese hold a lot of affection for Taiwan, sending it thousands of tourists each year, and buying our upscale fruit and agricultural products. Japan has also been slowly coming to view Taiwan as important for its security. Hence Ma's approach to Japan, like the adulterous husband who must reassure the wife that all is well in the marriage....
- The Establishment loves the idea of selling Taiwan to China via a "Peace Treaty." I'll take a look at this in more detail tomorrow. Read the footnotes to see who helped out, and you will understand why the piece is void of both understanding and moral scruple.
- Awesome post on Taiwan's SAM network, with plenty of pics, at great blog.
- Economist on "peace" breaking out here.
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