Monday, August 28, 2006

Taiwan and Japan Warm to Each Other

One of the most important developments of the last few years has been the steady movement of Taiwan and Japan toward each other, impelled by the geostrategic logic of responding to an expansionist China gunning to become a regional power and annex Taiwan. Rueters has a review of the longtime Taiwanese love affair with Japan --

The Japanese tourists sometimes choose Taiwan over China as a holiday destination because of Chinese hostility toward Japan, said Ryoji Takagaki, an official at Japan's de facto embassy in Taipei.

Commercial ties are also close.

Japan is Taiwan's second largest trading partner. According to Taiwanese government data, trade between the two countries totaled $36.4 billion in the first seven months of 2006.


Even though Japan's agreement with China forbids formal contact with Taiwan, informal political visits are common.

About 100 Japanese legislators visit Taiwan every year to learn about the island. The governor of Tokyo has visited many times.

"There are legislators who prefer Taiwan and don't like China," Takagaki said. "You know Japan's situation. They prefer democratic, free countries."

Officials from Taiwan and Japan say they are trying to work out a deal on fishing rights near a group of disputed islands north of Taiwan.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Japan-Taiwan ties if Ma Ying-jeou becomes President in 2008.

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