Saturday, March 17, 2018

Leveraging Popular Action to Irritate Relations with Japan

So many Vietnamese wives imported into Taiwan means good Vietnamese food is available even in the smallest towns.

The KMT hates Japan (among older KMTers that hate is even genuine) and always attempts to split Taiwan and Japan. Because Taiwanese love Japan and vice versa, that is no simple task. One method has long been the use of private organizations and popular action to irritate Taiwan-Japan relations over the Senkakus and other issues. I've been following this on the blog for a while (here and here, for example). Five years ago I wrote:
The [KMT] government in Taipei is clearly attempting to stoke the Diaoyutai issue at home, to drum up some faux nationalism and to divert attention from the many problems the economy is facing. During recent exercises the military wore patches saying "The Diaoyutai are ours!" (DefenseNews). In the most recent exchange of water cannon fire between ROC coast guard vessels and Japanese ships, Chinese ships were hanging around. The two sides probably aren't actively coordinating, but of course they don't need to. Everyone knows the score and knows how they should behave.
KMT policy hasn't changed. This month gives us two examples. The Taipei Times this week reported:
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday turned over 18,750 signatures for a referendum drive to the Central Election Commission to back a call for a referendum on boycotting food imports from Fukushima Prefecture and four surrounding Japanese prefectures that were affected by the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.

“The number of signatures is tenfold the legal requirement. It symbolizes the public outrage directed at the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] administration,” Hau told a news conference at the commission’s office after presenting boxes containing the signed pages to commission official Chuang Kuo-hsiang (莊國祥).
The KMT has long attempted to use food issues to present itself as the party of the people against the DPP. In the 2016 election, for example, KMT candidate Eric Chu used the ractopork issue to attack the DPP. After Tsai won, this tactic continued. This current referendum drive thus serves the double purpose of irritating relations with Japan while hacking on the DPP.

Note that further down the Ag Minister points out that if Taiwan were to join the CPTPP it must comply with the norms of CPTPP states, and importing ractopork and radiated food is one of those norms. This move to irritate Japan is thus also, but more quietly, directed at this successor to the US-led TPP, which was revived by Japan. When Taiwan joins an international agreement system, it is good for Taiwan but bad for China's drive to annex Taiwan. Taiwan joining an international agreement led by Japan would be especially infuriating to the pro-China KMT.

Another move occurred early this month: the now familiar irritation of Japan-Taiwan relations using fisherman in the Senkakus, the island group which China suddenly invented a claim to in the late 1960s. Fisherman complained that they had been chased from waters they should not have been...
Tseng Tai-shan (曾泰山), chairman of the association, told CNA that the Taiwanese recreational fishing vessel did not intrude into Japan's territorial waters and accused the Japanese side of going too far in its reaction.

"We hope that the government will be tough this time in dealing with Japan in order to ensure the interests of Taiwanese fishing boats."
The fisherman called upon the government to get tough with Japan, which would certainly cause more trouble. This is not the first time that Tseng has been involved in this sort of thing -- in 2013 he was part of a call for a lawsuit against Japan over the Senkakus. And that same boat has been chased before, according to the report above.

Fishermen have a special place in Taiwan hearts and there is much sympathy for them, a hidden reason why the fleets are never reformed or well regulated. Recall the outpouring of public support for the tuna poachers shot by Philippines coast guard in 2013. Few voices in the media asked about Taiwan's long history of poaching in those waters, instead blaming Phils.

Luckily, one of the Tsai Administration's skills is keeping silliness like this under control and not letting it affect Taiwan-Japan relations, which (also fortuitously) have deep roots.
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1 comment:

an angry taiwanese said...

They seem to keep practicing the same workflow even though it doesn’t work. The first leg starts with Deep-Blue fishermen. Immediatly, the commi-nationalism TVs and newspaper add fuel. Then predictably KMT Chair Woman/Man will urge Taiwanese people to boost their hatred level toward something Japanese.

Thanks for keep track record of that fisher of natical troubles. We need to keep an eye on him.

More and more Taiwanese are losing patience and sympathy for fishermen, who have been receiving unproportionally government subsidies (petroleum, tax, ...). 1. Many land people are suffering economically 2. The daughter of the shot fishing vessel captain in the Philippine incident was found to take bribe as a local representative.