President Ma Ying-jeou met with a delegation of parliamentarians from Japan's Democratic Party on the morning of September 8 at the Presidential Office. The president, on behalf of the government and people of the ROC, extended a warm welcome to the lawmakers and expressed his hopes that the guests will gain a closer understanding about the status and development of relations between Taiwan and Japan on this trip.
The president remarked that Taiwan-Japan relations are extremely close and that Japan is Taiwan's second largest trading partner while Taiwan is Japan's fourth largest. In addition, each year on average the border authorities of Taiwan and Japan record over two million tourist trips between the two countries. The importance of developing relations between the two sides is thus clearly in evidence, he said.
President Ma explained that Taiwan and mainland China on June 29 signed the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, under which tariffs on various products of the two sides will be gradually abolished over the coming two years. He said that the agreement is expected to further boost trade volume between the two sides. The president said that according to statistics, Japanese firms that cooperate with a Taiwanese counterpart when investing in mainland China have a greater chance for success than those who go it alone. He said he hopes that Japan will take advantage of the thaw in cross-strait relations to expand its trade relations with both Taiwan and mainland China.
The president noted that in terms of strengthening interaction between Taiwan and Japan, Taiwan's Association of East Asian Relations and Japan's Interchange Association in April of this year signed an MOU on cooperative exchanges between Taiwan and Japan, which expands to 15 the number of areas in which both sides will cooperate. The president also pointed out that Taiwan established a representative office in Hokkaido in December of last year and at the end of October this year charter flights between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport are slated to commence. In addition, he mentioned that Japan's parliament, the Diet, is presently working on legislation that would protect cultural items from Taiwan when displayed in Japan. Once this legislation is passed, he said, Taiwan's National Palace Museum will be able to exhibit works from its collection in Japan.
The parliamentary delegation from Japan's Democratic Party included Masashi Mito, Naoki Kazama, Koichiro Katsumata, Kumiko Hayakawa, and Hideyuki Takahashi. The group was accompanied to the Presidential Office in the morning by Tadashi Imai, Chief Representative of Japan’s Interchange Association, and Vice Minister of the ROC’s Foreign Affairs Ssu-Tsun Shen to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security Council Advisor Lee Chia-chin.