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President Ma meets delegation led by Seiji Maehara, a DPJ member of Japan's House of Representatives

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the afternoon of December 12 with a delegation led by Japanese House of Representatives Member Seiji Maehara, who belongs to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). In addition to welcoming the group on behalf of the government and people of the ROC, the president also called for further strengthening of the cooperative relationship.

In remarks, President Ma first thanked Representative Maehara, who during his tenures as Minister for Foreign Affairs as well as Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism provided considerable support and assistance to Taiwan. He said that Representative Maehara has long been a member of the DPJ's Japan-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Consultation Association. He has previously visited Taiwan three times and pays close attention to security issues involving Taiwan, the United States, and Japan, the president remarked, adding that when Representative Maehara served as Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism he advocated a review of Japan's aviation administration, and the internationalization of Haneda Airport. His efforts facilitated the commencement of direct flights between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport, as well as the realization of an open skies agreement between Taiwan and Japan, the president commented.

President Ma further stated that after the signing of an open skies agreement between Taiwan and Japan, except for Tokyo's Haneda and Narita Airports, limitations on flights between Taiwan and airports in second tier Japanese cities (including limits on types of aircraft used and the number of flights) were fully abolished. He stated that the number of airports served in flights between the two countries has increased by 90%, while the number of flights has risen by 45%. The president indicated that the number of weekly flights between Taiwan and Japan presently exceed 400, and flights operate to 20 major airports throughout Japan. This is the most deregulated and prosperous state in the history of aviation services between Taiwan and Japan, with more frequent flights than ever before, he said.

As for cultural ties, the president stated, thanks to assistance by the Japanese parliament (Diet), works from Taiwan's National Palace Museum will be exhibited in Tokyo and Fukuoka, including treasured items such as the Jadeite Cabbage and the Meat-shaped Stone. This will be the first time for both of these items to be displayed overseas, he said, adding that this will mark a new milestone in bilateral cultural interaction.

In discussing the topic of peace in the East China Sea, the president stated that in August of last year he issued the East China Sea Peace Initiative. Acting on the principle that "sovereignty over national territory cannot be compromised, but natural resources can be shared," Taiwan and Japan in April of this year signed a fisheries agreement that resolved a 40-year dispute in the East China Sea. This has effectively promoted peace and stability in the area, he said. In addition, with respect to the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) announced by mainland China on November 23, the president stated, Taiwan on the same day issued a four-point statement emphasizing that the ROC has sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islets. The statement also urged all parties to show restraint and avoid action that would boost tensions, he said. Furthermore, the statement also called for bilateral negotiations and dialogue to resolve the dispute, the president stated.

President Ma then turned to bilateral trade and economic relations, stating that the two countries in 2011 signed the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement. Statistics indicate that the number of investments from Japan increased by 83% from 338 in 2010 to 619 last year, he said. In addition, the number of investments from Taiwan in Japan rose by 59% from 22 in 2010 to 35 last year, which indicates significant growth in trade and investment relations. In addition, he stated, Japan has already decided to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and plays an important role in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Taiwan, he said, also hopes to join these groups, and would like to exchange opinions with Japan on economic integration and further strengthen cooperation in the area of trade and economic liberalization.

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