President Ma Ying-jeou met with Japanese House of Councillors Member Mitsuhide Iwaki on the morning of May 5 at the Presidential Office. President Ma expressed his appreciation to Mr. Iwaki for his long-term efforts at promoting friendly relations between Taiwan and Japan and also welcomed him on his visit here.
The president remarked that Councillor Iwaki is an esteemed member of Japan's Parliament and previously served as Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary. He is also an important member of the Japan-ROC Diet Members' Consultative Council. Mr. Iwaki maintains a good relationship with both the ruling and opposition parties here, the president said, adding that last year he offered a warm reception to Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng when he led a delegation to Japan.
President Ma commented that this is quite an opportune moment for Councillor Iwaki to visit Taiwan. Last Tuesday (April 28) marked the 57th anniversary of the signing of the ROC-Japan Peace Treaty. The ROC (Taiwan) government held an activity to mark this event, unveiling bronze statues of persons involved in signing the pact, including ROC plenipotentiary representative Yeh Kung-chao, deputy representative Hu Ching-yu, Japanese plenipotentiary Isao Kawada and head of suite Shiroshichi Kimura.
President Ma furthermore said that the ROC-Japan Peace Treaty has played an extremely important role in ties between the two countries. In addition to formally ending the state of war between the two nations after the conclusion of World War II. At the same time, the treaty affirmed that Taiwan had returned to the sovereignty of the Republic of China seven years prior to the signing of the pact. The treaty created the foundation for relations to develop between the two sides, he said. In light of this, the two countries consistently maintained friendly ties and diplomatic relations for 20 years after the inking of the treaty.
The president also said that while formal diplomatic relations between the two sides were severed 20 years after the signing of the pact, his government has designated 2009 as "The Year to Foster the Special Partnership between Taiwan and Japan" with the hope of further advancing relations between the two countries. In the future, Taiwan plans to establish a representative office in Sapporo, Hokkaido, and a preliminary agreement has been reached in which eight daily flights will be commenced between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport. In addition, a Taiwan-Japan working holiday visa system will formally take effect on June 1, which will enable young people between the ages of 18 and 30 from each nation to spend extended periods in the other. Each year, up to 2,000 people will be allowed to participate in the program. All of these initiatives will be of enormous benefit in terms of establishing long lasting cooperative relations between the two sides, the president said.
President Ma also pointed out that the 16th round of fishing negotiations between the two countries was held in the latter half of February this year. What distinguished this round of talks from previous ones is that the two sides jointly announced prior to the negotiations that the controversial Diaoyutai Islands issue would temporarily be put aside, enabling both sides to engage in talks in an atmosphere of compromise, the president said. Meanwhile, President Ma said that the government is considering establishing a cultural center in Tokyo to promote cultural interaction between the two sides and the National Palace Museum is presently assessing the possibility of holding an exhibition in Japan. The president said that he believes that Councillor Iwaki is as pleased by the gradual strengthening of Taiwan-Japan relations as he is.
Councillor Iwaki expressed his appreciation to President Ma for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with him. He also remarked that during the time when he served as Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, he was fortunate to establish relations with important persons in the ruling and opposition parties here. He said that these relationships have been an important asset to him in his political career. Councillor Iwaki also expressed his view that even closer contacts between Taiwan and Japan and a partnership between the two countries will be beneficial in maintaining peace and stability in the Asian region. He said that he is willing to make every effort in the Diet to promote the continued development of relations between the two countries. Councillor Iwaki expressed his admiration for President Ma for watching top-notch Japanese movies such as "Departures" as a means to enhance his understanding of Japanese culture, traditions and ways of thinking. He said he is confident that relations between Taiwan and Japan will see even further development in the days ahead.