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Tsai, Abe's mother enjoy NHK concert in Taipei

2016/06/03 23:23:08

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) attended a performance of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Taipei on Friday, along with Yoko Abe, the mother of Japan's Premier Shinzo Abe -- in what is widely seen as Tsai and Premier Abe's affirmation of the importance they place in building closer ties between their governments.

Tsai arrived at the National Concert Hall before Yoko Abe, who was accompanied by Mikio Numata, chief representative of the Taipei Office of Japan's Interchange Association.

The two took their seats in a low profile manner three minutes before the concert started, but they interacted closely by talking to each other during the performance.

During the intermission, Tsai and Yoko Abe headed to the rest zone together. Upon leaving her seat, Tsai waved to the nearby audience who greeted her enthusiastically.

According to diplomatic sources, Yoko Abe's attendance in the NHK's concert -- the first such performance in Taipei since 1971 when Taipei still maintained diplomatic relations with Tokyo -- demonstrated the importance and friendliness that the Japanese government attaches to Taiwan.

Tokyo switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1972.

In addition, the sources said, Japan also wanted to take the opportunity to express its appreciation for Taiwan's massive donation in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 31, 2011.

Yoko Abe's current visit to Taiwan and a visit by Nobusuke Kishi, her other son and a parliamentarian, to the island in early May can also be seen as a cordial response by the Japanese side to Tsai's visit to Yamaguchi Prefecture -- the native land of the Abe family -- in October last year before her inauguration on May 20, the sources said.

China typically reacts angrily to leaders from other countries visiting Taiwan, because it sees the island as its province and opposes other countries building official diplomatic ties with Taipei. So sending his mother and brother to Taiwan is the closest Shinzo Abe can come to expressing the importance he places on Taiwan relations.

Yoko Abe visited the CKS Shilin Residence Friday afternoon, the former residence of Taiwan's late President Chiang Kai-shek. The Abe family is said to be on friendly terms with Chiang's family.

(By P.C. Tang and Flor Wang)