30 July 2015

Editorial: Taiwan's Former President Causes Controversy in Japan

By Shannon Tiezzi

Lee Teng-hui causes a stir by repeating his view that the Senkakus belong to Japan.

Former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui was in Japan last week, where he met with a number of Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since his return on Sunday, Lee’s comments on the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands (made while in Japan) have created a firestorm of controversy in Taiwan, with mainland Chinese media paying close attention.

Lee’s trip to Japan was controversial even before he left. Beijing had urged the Japanese government not to allow the visit, without success. In a statement, Lu Kang, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, expressed China’s “deep concern and strong dissatisfaction.” The statement called Lee “an obstinate propagandist of the ‘Taiwan independence’” and accused Japan of providing a convenient platform “for his ‘Taiwan independence’ activities in Japan.”

Still, Lee’s trip was hardly unusual. The former president, now 92, has visited Japan seven times since he left office in 2000, with his previous trip in September 2014. On this trip, Lee gave a speech before roughly 400 Japanese legislators at a Diet office building, a first for Lee or any former Taiwanese leader. He then visited Fukushima Prefecture, the site of the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and Miyagi Prefecture, which was hit hard by an April 2011 aftershock quake.

Lee also met with Abe, who reportedly visited Lee’s hotel in Tokyo. According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, the two discussed “Japan’s current political situation, including the issue of security-related bills now under deliberation in the Diet.” Lee supports Japan’s right to exercise collective self-defense.

Read the full story at The Diplomat