Former Japan representative voices support for Taiwan's CPTPP bid

01/20/2020 07:52 PM

Tokyo, Jan. 20 (CNA) A former Japanese representative to Taiwan has urged his country to support Taiwan's admission to a free trade agreement between Canada and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Judging by Taiwan's economic scale and geopolitical importance in the Taiwan Strait, it is fully eligible to become a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), said the now retired Tadashi Ikeda, a former chief representative of the Interchange Association (Japan), Taipei Office.

The association, which has changed its name to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, represents Japan's interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, which ended in 1972.

The CPTPP was the agreement that arose after United States President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of its predecessor, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), soon after he took office in January 2017.

Taiwan had hoped to join the TPP, which was signed in February 2016 but not ratified as required.

Commenting on Taiwan's Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections, Ikeda said Japan respected the public's opinion.

Incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) defeated Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) by a 57-38 percent margin, and Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party retained its legislative majority, winning 61 seats.

The retired diplomat said he felt the elections served as an opportunity for voters to judge Tsai's performance over the past four years, but he felt the major focus of the polls was on how Taiwan should keep its distance from China.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests and Chinese President Xi Jinping's (習近平) proposal to apply the "one country, two systems" formula Beijing uses to rule Hong Kong and Macau to Taiwan aroused a sense of crisis among Taiwanese that Taiwan could be annexed by China and fueled support for Tsai, he said.

Ikeda said Taiwan is an important partner for Japan with shared values and close economic ties, and he suggested that Taiwan and Japan should further strengthen substantive unofficial ties.

He also laid out three areas where bilateral relations could be improved.

Japan should give strong support for Taiwan's bid to join the Japan-led CPTPP, Taiwan and Japan should engage in closer security exchanges and dialogue, and they should promote exchanges between government officials, he said.

In the security area in particular, he said Taiwan and Japan should hold talks on protecting each other's harbors and bays when an emergency occurs, and negotiations should be held to come up with measures to respond to cyberattacks.

As for the exchange of government officials, he suggested that senior Taiwanese officials could make transit stops through Osaka when visiting Taiwan's allies in the Pacific, much as Taiwan's presidents make stops in the U.S. on visits to allies in the Caribbean or Central America.

(By Yang Ming-chu and Evelyn Kao)

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