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President Tsai meets Japanese National Diet delegation  
President Tsai meets Japanese National Diet delegation  

On the morning of July 28, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation of parliamentarians from Japan's National Diet focused on security issues. In remarks, President Tsai thanked the Japanese government for speaking out at numerous international events on the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Noting that Taiwan is a critical line of defense in the first island chain, the president said that we will continue to deepen cooperation with Japan and other democratic partners in order to jointly maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

A translation of the president's remarks follows:

Welcome to Taiwan. You parliamentarians here today are all experts on Taiwan-Japan security issues, and good friends who know Taiwan well. You have come to visit us as soon as the pandemic eased here, and we are very grateful for your friendship and the importance you place on Taiwan.

For many years now, when Taiwan or Japan has faced challenges from a natural disaster or the pandemic, we have come together and helped each other through difficult times. Last year, when the pandemic in Taiwan was particularly severe, Japan donated vaccines to Taiwan, and I would like to take this opportunity to once again express our gratitude.

Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's support and efforts played a key role in helping Taiwan and Japan establish a deep and abiding friendship, and his tragic passing at the beginning of this month saddened us all. Many Taiwanese came out to pay their respects, with a deep conviction that former Prime Minister Abe will always be a friend of Taiwan.

I remember that, during a virtual dialogue with former Prime Minister Abe this past March, he reiterated that "if Taiwan has a problem, then Japan has a problem, and the Japan-US alliance also has a problem." In addition to its major significance for regional security, that statement showed a deep concern for Taiwan issues. I know that all of you likewise place great importance on the security issues facing Japan and its global democratic partners, which is why you formed an association of parliamentarians focused on security issues in 2019.

Over the past few years, the Japanese government has at numerous international events emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. That includes this year’s Japan-EU summit, Japan-US summit, G7 summit, and NATO summit. At the NATO summit, Japan was a first-time participant. We are very grateful to your government for its support and the importance it places on Taiwan.

Taiwan is an important member of the international community. We know that defending Taiwan is not just about defending our own sovereignty; in terms of regional strategic security, it is also about Taiwan's position as a critical line of defense in the first island chain. We will continue to deepen cooperation with Japan and other democratic partners in order to jointly maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

Taiwan and Japan are closely cooperating in many areas other than security. In trade, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and SONY are cooperating to set up a factory in Kumamoto Prefecture, and I believe this plan will help both Taiwan and Japan achieve a more stable supply of semiconductors.

We look forward to maintaining close exchanges with all of our distinguished guests, working together to deepen Taiwan-Japan ties. In closing, I want to welcome you all once again, and wish you a productive and rewarding visit. Thank you.

Japanese House of Representatives Member and former Minister of Defense Ishiba Shigeru then delivered remarks, thanking President Tsai for taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with the delegation, and saying that it was a great honor to meet her. Former Minister Ishiba also expressed gratitude for the president's condolences on the passing of former Prime Minister Abe, stressing that the incident would neither shake Japan's democracy nor cause public opinion to yield to violence.

Mentioning that he himself had worked together with former Prime Minister Abe, former Minister Ishiba stated that Japan's responsibility to the Asia-Pacific region, whether in terms of legal preparations or increasing military capabilities and economic power, is not just a talking point but a commitment to take concrete action. Lamenting that former Prime Minister Abe's vision had not been realized, he said he is willing to continue advancing Abe's ideals and take up his share of responsibility.

Former Minister Ishiba pointed out that his association of parliamentarians focused on security issues is a cross-party organization, many of whose members have played important roles in government. House of Representatives Members Maehara Seiji, who served as minister for foreign affairs, and Watanabe Shu, who was formerly parliamentary senior vice minister of defense, are all important members of the association, said former Minister Ishiba, who expressed regret that they could not join the visit. 

Former Minister Ishiba expressed hope that, through this visit, discussions could be held on how Taiwan and Japan should cooperate, and future issues could be resolved one by one. He further noted that, in response to the situation in Ukraine, President Tsai has made clear to the people of Taiwan on multiple occasions that it is up to the Taiwanese to save their own country, a statement which left him deeply moved.

Regarding concrete preventive measures to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, former Minister Ishiba expressed his belief that, when it comes to envisioning potential regional contingencies, what may follow such events, and what treaties, laws, or armed forces might be used to address resulting issues, consultations should be held to reach consensus before such events take place. Former Minister Ishiba added that, although we share the same spirit and ideals, we still lack a consensus on concrete action.

Stating that Taiwan plays an important role in ensuring global economic prosperity, former Minister Ishiba said that at this time of considerable change, the tremendous responsibilities shouldered by President Tsai hold historical significance, and said he looks forward to hearing President Tsai's views.

In closing, former Minister Ishiba thanked Taiwan's government for assisting and hosting his delegation during their visit to Taiwan.

Among the members of the delegation were Japanese House of Representatives Members Ishiba Shigeru, Hamada Yasukazu, and Nagashima Akihisa, as well as Japanese House of Councillors Member Shimizu Takayuki and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Taipei Office Chief Representative Izumi Hiroyasu.

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