Ex-President Lee returns from controversial visit to Japan - Focus Taiwan

Ex-President Lee returns from controversial visit to Japan

Lee waves to people welcoming him home as a group of protesters were cordoned off at airport hall Sunday.
Lee waves to people welcoming him home as a group of protesters were cordoned off at airport hall Sunday.

Taipei, July 24 (CNA) Former President Lee Teng-hui(李登輝) returned to Taipei Sunday evening from a visit to Japan, where he made controversial remarks about the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai Islands.

Upon his arrival, he was greeted by groups of lovers and haters that were separated by police at the airport.

Scores of China Unify Party (中華統一促進黨) members, who protested Lee's remarks, were cordoned off by police.

Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) youth league, led by TSU Chairman Huang Kun-hui, welcomed Lee home by presenting flower wreaths on him and shouting "I love You" -- much to Lee's pleasure.

Responding to reporters' questions at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on July 23, Lee said the Diaoyutai Islands belong to Japan.

Without identifying Lee, Taiwan's Presidential spokesman Chen I-hsin (陳以信) responded Friday, saying that "any self-denial of the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai Islands will be humiliating to the country and will forfeit its sovereignty."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) also rushed to respond to Lee's comment, reasserting that the Diaoyutai island group, located some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, is an inherent part of the territory of the Republic of China.

The Diaoyutai Islands, which have been under Japan's administrative control since 1972, are also claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in his East China Sea Initiative in August 2012, while reaffirming the ROC's sovereignty over the islands, proposed shelving differences, seeking peace and reciprocity, and jointly exploring resources, as a way of dealing with territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

Lee, who served as Taiwan's president from January 1988 to May 2000, is known for his pro-Japan stance. He has said many times that the Diaoyutais, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands, are part of Japanese territory.

During his recent six-day trip to Japan, which started July 21, he reportedly met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe but has declined to confirm the meeting.

(By Bear Lee)

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