Tokyo, Dec. 4 (CNA) A group of opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Taipei city councilors demanded the resignation Wednesday of the nation's top envoy to Japan, former Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), after one of his former election campaign staffers was indicted Monday.
The staffer is accused of paying an Internet troll to insult Taiwan's representative office in Osaka, an illegal act that might have contributed to the 2018 suicide of the office chief.
Staging a protest outside Taiwan's representative office in Tokyo, where Hsieh is posted, the four councilors said the accused, Slow Yang (楊蕙如), has been closely associated with Hsieh for several years.
They asked to meet Hsieh in person and called on the envoy to explain if he was behind Yang's action.
Hsieh should resign from his post pending a further probe to determine his role in the case, they said.
The office, however, remained closed Wednesday in anticipation of the arrival of the protesters and Hsieh did not show up.
Instead, the office sent a section chief as a representative to receive a letter of protest from them.
Hsieh later told CNA that he refused to meet with the KMT members because they had not made an appointment with him in advance.
In addition, their protest meant they were engaging in activities not in compliance with the purpose of their visit, which is against Japanese law.
They entered Japan visa-free, meaning that they could only visit the country for the purposes of sightseeing, meetings, visiting relatives, or conducting short-term business trips.
In a separate Facebook post, Hsieh said he knew nothing about Yang's alleged hiring of the Internet troll, even though she did previously work for him and the two have maintained friendly relations for 11 years.
Yang was a member of Hsieh's campaign team responsible for online electioneering when he ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008. She later set up a foundation in his name, Hsieh said.
He did not instruct Yang to carry out her alleged wrongdoing, the envoy added.
He further accused the KMT of taking advantage of the indictment to gain votes in the upcoming presidential and legislative elections.
Yang was indicted on charges of insulting public officials by hiring Tsai Fu-ming (蔡福明) to make derogatory posts on the popular online forum PTT, according to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office.
The posts were part of heavy online criticism directed at the representative office for its perceived lack of assistance for Taiwan nationals who were stranded at Japan's Kansai Airport when Typhoon Jebi devastated the area in early September 2018.
The posts also defended Hsieh's role in the incident, saying the political appointee had little control over the representative office in Osaka, which was headed by career diplomat Su Chii-cherng (蘇啓誠).
Su hung himself at his residence in Osaka Sept. 14 and Hsieh said at the time that he believed the criticism targeting the office was one of the main reasons for his suicide.
Hsieh was Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman from 2000 to 2002 and served as premier in 2005 during the previous DPP administration.
He assumed the post as the nation's top representative to Japan in May 2016 after the DPP regained power.