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  • President Ma meets former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu
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President Ma meets former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu. President Ma exchanges ideas with former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu. President Ma takes group photo with former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu. President Ma conveys best wishes to Japanese people.
President Ma Ying-jeou met on the afternoon of March 9 with former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu and extended his congratulations and best wishes to the former prime minister, who came to Taiwan to receive an honorary doctorate degree on March 8 from National Central University.

President Ma stated that besides receiving the honorary doctorate, during this visit former Prime Minister Kaifu will plant cherry trees at the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and at Shih Hsin University to symbolize the ever-growing friendship between Taiwan and Japan.
The president remarked that the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 last year took place while former Prime Minister Kaifu was visiting Taiwan. At the time, he immediately called the former prime minister to express condolences on behalf of the government and people of the ROC. The president said he also immediately announced that the ROC would provide a donation of NT$100 million to assist in rescue and relief. In the weeks and months following, the people of Taiwan donated over 600 tonnes of material goods and raised NT$6.6 billion in cash donations. The people of Japan were deeply moved by this generosity, and over the past half year, members of the ruling Democratic Party, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, and individuals from a variety of sectors, including athletes and private companies, have visited Taiwan to express their gratitude. In addition, a total of 66 Japanese parliamentarians visited Taiwan in early October last year to take part in the Double Tenth National Day celebrations. This was the largest number of parliamentarians from Japan to ever visit Taiwan at a single time, which also signals that relations between Taiwan and Japan have reached new heights over the past year.

The president also detailed the many concrete achievements seen as a result of his promotion of relations between the two countries since he took office in May 2008. He explained that the government designated the relationship between the two countries as a "special partnership," and the two sides have signed a youth working holiday agreement, a memorandum of understanding on cooperation, and a Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement. The ROC, he said, has established a representative office in Sapporo, and has also opened the Taipei Cultural Center in Tokyo. Direct flights have been commenced between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport, and amendments have been made to the aviation treaty between the two countries that has paved the way for an open skies agreement. Bilateral trade last year reached US$70.4 billion, and Taiwanese made 1.14 million visits to Japan while Japanese made 1.29 million visits here, marking the first time that the number of Japanese visiting Taiwan has exceeded Taiwanese visiting Japan.
President Ma also mentioned that Japan's parliament has already passed the Law Concerning Promotion of Exhibitions of Art Objects from Overseas, which prevents the impounding of artwork from other nations that is on display in Japan. With legal obstacles now out of the way, Taiwan's National Palace Museum is expected to hold an exhibition of pieces from its collection in Japan in two years. At the same time, it is hoped that major Japanese fine arts museums will hold exhibitions of pieces from their collections here in the future, thereby further enhancing cultural and artistic exchanges between the two countries.

President Ma stated that he was elected to another term in January and that the Cabinet resigned en masse at the end of January, paving the way for a Cabinet reshuffle. He explained that he has appointed Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) as chairman of the Association of East Asian Relations. Mr. Liao, he said, previously served as minister of the interior, secretary-general to the president, and secretary-general of the ruling Kuomintang. He also has close ties to Japan and is familiar with Japanese affairs. In addition, Feng Chi-tai (馮寄台), who served as Taiwan's representative to Japan for over three years, recently resigned his post due to family matters after a distinguished period of service. The president remarked that he reluctantly approved Representative Feng's resignation. Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳), who has served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for over 32 years and in recent years has been responsible for East Asian affairs, has been appointed to replace Representative Feng. Mr. Shen also has a deep understanding of Japanese affairs in part due to his most recent post as vice minister of foreign affairs. President Ma said he expects that Representative Shen will follow in the footsteps of Representative Feng and help to create new horizons in the Taiwan-Japan relationship.

Former Prime Minister Kaifu was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Association of East Asian Relations Chairman Liao and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Ssu-tsun to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security Council Advisor Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進).
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