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  • President Ma meets visiting economic delegation from Japan's Fukui Prefecture
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President Ma meets visiting economic delegation from Japan's Fukui Prefecture. President Ma welcomes visiting economic delegation from Japan's Fukui Prefecture. President Ma takes group photo with visiting economic delegation from Japan's Fukui Prefecture.
President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of February 14 with an economic mission from Japan's Fukui Prefecture. During the meeting, the president affirmed the close trade, investment, and tourism ties between the two sides, and said he expects that interaction and cooperation between the two countries will become even closer thanks to the efforts of Mr. Liaoyi Liao (廖了以), the new chairman of the Association of East Asian Relations .

In speaking to the group, the president first extended a welcome to Issei Nishikawa (Fukui Prefecture Governor), Tatsuo Kawada (chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Fukui Prefecture), and representatives from the commerce and tourism sectors in Fukui. The president remarked that even though Taiwan and Japan do not maintain formal diplomatic relations, the two have a special partnership in trade, tourism, and transportation, and the ROC government attaches great importance to the relationship between the two countries.

On the trade front, the president mentioned that bilateral trade last year reached US$70.4 billion. Japan is Taiwan's second largest trading partner, making it extremely important as a source for trade. In addition, last year Japan invested over US$400 million in Taiwan, up 9% from the previous year. At the same time, Taiwan's investment in Japan last year was about US$250 million, up 520%. Last year was an extremely special one for the two countries in their economic relationship. He pointed out that Taiwan and Japan last year signed the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement, which he described as the most important pact between the two in the past 60 years. This agreement is paving the way for an even closer investment relationship between the two sides, and it is anticipated that even more Japanese firms will be attracted to invest in Taiwan as a result.
On the topic of tourism, President Ma cited statistics to evidence the vibrant interaction between the two sides. For instance, last year some 2.43 million tourists from the two countries visited the other, with 1.13 million visits to Japan by Taiwanese and 1.29 million visits to Taiwan by Japanese. This was the first time that Japanese visiting Taiwan outnumbered Taiwanese going the other direction. President Ma remarked that direct flights commenced between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport in October 2010, and the two countries signed an open skies agreement last year, under which flights can be initiated between all domestic Japanese airports and Taiwan without any restrictions. These are important milestones in aviation between Taiwan and Japan.

President Ma noted the large article published by the prestigious Japanese weekly Toyo Keizai on the investment opportunities for Japan in Taiwan. He said he hopes that Taiwan and Japanese companies will make the best use of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement and the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement. These deals offer the opportunity to boost competitiveness, he said, adding that stronger economic cooperation between the two sides will generate even greater business opportunities.

In addition to continuing forward with bilateral relations as described above, the president pointed out that Mr. Liaoyi Liao, who has been appointed to serve as the new chairman of the Association of East Asian Relations, has enormous experience in administrative affairs, and his mother and grandmother were both Japanese. He has a deep understanding of Japanese affairs, the president said, expressing his confidence that Chairman Liao will play an instrumental role in forging even closer relations between the two countries.

The delegation, which numbered over 40, was led by Fukui Prefecture Governor Issei Nishikawa. Association of East Asian Relations Chairman Liao and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Shen-Yeaw Ko (柯森耀) accompanied the delegation to the Presidential Office to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General John C.C. Deng (鄧振中).
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