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President Tsai meets Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Ohashi Mitsuo  
President Tsai meets Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Ohashi Mitsuo  

On the morning of December 16, President Tsai Ing-wen met with Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Ohashi Mitsuo. In remarks, President Tsai said that the close partnership between Taiwan and Japan, epitomized by the saying "a friend in need is a friend indeed," has continued to grow stronger over the past few years, with increasingly diversified and multilateral bilateral cooperation mechanisms as well as growing momentum in parliamentary diplomacy. The president also expressed hope that cooperation between Taiwan and Japan can continue to yield new progress in areas such as national defense and security, economics and trade, and industrial transformation. 

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, I met annually with Chairman Ohashi Mitsuo at the Presidential Office. I'm very happy to see my old friend again today, and I want to extend a warm welcome to all our visitors. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of both the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association and the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association. Since taking over as head of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association in 2011, Chairman Ohashi has promoted the signing of many different bilateral agreements between Taiwan and Japan, and helped change the name of the organization from the "Japan Interchange Association" to the "Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association." I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chairman Ohashi for his contributions to the advancement of relations between Taiwan and Japan.

Over the past few years, thanks to the support and assistance of Chairman Ohashi and Chief Representative Izumi Hiroyasu [of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association], the close partnership between Taiwan and Japan, epitomized by the saying "a friend in need is a friend indeed," has continued to grow stronger. We are very grateful to Japan for donating COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan, which provided important support to Taiwan's pandemic prevention efforts. Taiwan also donated face masks to Japan. Together, we have tackled the challenges of the pandemic.

Our bilateral cooperation mechanisms have also become increasingly diversified and multilateral. This past October, for example, Taiwan worked with Japan, the US, and Australia to hold our first workshop in Tokyo under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF). This workshop is an excellent model for cooperation between Taiwan and Japan on international issues.

We have also seen growing momentum in Taiwan-Japan parliamentary diplomacy. Not only did the Japan-ROC Diet Members' Consultative Council once again form a delegation to attend our National Day celebrations this past October; the delegation for the first time took part in our National Day parade alongside members of our Legislative Yuan's Taiwan-Japan parliamentary friendship group. Last month, Legislative Yuan President You Si-kun (游錫堃) led a delegation to visit the council, during which more than 60 members of Japan's National Diet attended a welcome banquet for his delegation. And just recently, Japanese House of Representatives Member Hagiuda Koichi led a delegation to Taiwan to attend the Taiwan-Japan Trade and Economic Sustainability Forum. These interactions and exchanges all reflect the strong friendship between Taiwan and Japan.

I want to thank the Japanese government for speaking up at numerous international venues in support of Taiwan's international participation, and for emphasizing the importance of peace in the Taiwan Strait. In the future, Taiwan will continue seeking to participate in international organizations and to join regional economic cooperation mechanisms such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). I hope that Japan will continue to support Taiwan, and that we can work together to advance peace, prosperity, and development across the region.

In the face of global authoritarian expansion and the challenges of the post-pandemic era, we hope that cooperation between Taiwan and Japan can continue to yield new progress in areas such as national defense and security, economics and trade, and industrial transformation. Let us work together to respond to a changing global landscape and write a new chapter in our friendship.

In his own remarks, Chairman Ohashi first thanked President Tsai for taking the time to meet the delegation, and recalled his previous meeting with the president, which occurred on the day after she was reelected in Taiwan's 2020 presidential election. Noting that the pandemic had long prevented him from visiting, he said he is happy to be able to come to Taiwan and meet with its esteemed president.

Chairman Ohashi stated that under President Tsai's leadership, Taiwan has successfully responded to the pandemic, and the importance of its semiconductor industry has gained the world's awareness and acclaim. He also noted that the security situation in the Taiwan Strait has led to greatly increased international media coverage of Taiwan.

Chairman Ohashi mentioned that, while COVID-19 and Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year have all had a significant impact on the global economy, Taiwan has nevertheless maintained a high level of economic growth, and expressed his sincere admiration for this achievement. He said that Taiwan and Japan both share the values of democracy and freedom, have a love for peace, and are very important partners underpinning global supply chains, with critical positions in the world. He cited the president's National Day Address earlier this year, in which she said that wherever Taiwanese people go in the world, they can proudly introduce themselves, saying "I am Taiwanese." 

Chairman Ohashi emphasized that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is extremely important to the security of Japan and the region, and that it is also a very important issue for international peace and stability. He mentioned that, during bilateral summits with President Joe Biden of the United States and other world leaders, Prime Minister Kishida [Fumio] of Japan has repeatedly affirmed and emphasized the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, even doing so at a summit with the leader of China this past November. 

Chairman Ohashi said that as countries that share the same universal values, Japan and Taiwan are true friends who have worked together to face common challenges, including during natural disasters and the pandemic. Mentioning that earlier performances in Taiwan by students from Kyoto Tachibana Senior High School were well received here, he said this kind of bilateral youth exchanges have helped Taiwan and Japan better understand each other in our firm friendship as we move forward into the future and continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in cooperation, and added that he sincerely hopes this relationship can continue to develop. 

Chairman Ohashi said he is confident that if all other countries could have relations like those between Taiwan and Japan, as neighbors with close and friendly ties, the word "war" would disappear from use. He also said that the Taiwan-Japan relationship is a global model for friendly international ties.  

Chairman Ohashi noted that the following day he would visit the grave of late President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in Wuchihshan, New Taipei City to place flowers and pay his respects. He recalled an occasion in 2014 at which President Lee gave him a firm and long handshake, told him that Taiwan-Japan ties are the best and closest in the world, and said that Chairman Ohashi's work is to help the world understand this. Chairman Ohashi said he was deeply moved by the great concern for the development of Taiwan-Japan ties shown by President Lee, whom he felt had entrusted him with the task of ensuring that Taiwan-Japan ties can continue to grow. 

Also present at the meeting was Chief Representative Izumi Hiroyasu of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association.

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