Japanese politicians pay respects to former President Lee Teng-hui

08/03/2020 07:38 PM
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CNA photo Aug. 3, 2020
CNA photo Aug. 3, 2020

Taipei, Aug. 3 (CNA) Several Japanese political figures paid their respects to Taiwan's former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) Monday at the nation's representative office in Tokyo, where a memorial was set up to honor the former president.

Lee, praised as a democratic icon by many local and foreign leaders, succumbed to multiple organ failure on July. 30 at the age of 97.

A memorial was set up on Aug. 1 at the Taipei Guest House to allow members of the public to bid farewell to Lee.

In Japan, memorials were opened to the public at noon on Monday at Taiwan's representative offices in Tokyo, Osaka, and Naha.

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, former Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro, and legislator Kishi Nobuo, brother of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, were among the Japanese politicians who visited the memorial in Tokyo.

Aside from politicians, members of the public were also seen dressed in black and lining up outside the office, waiting for their turn to pay their respects following Lee's passing.

Meanwhile, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Taiwan's representative to Japan, described Lee as the first Taiwanese president who forged friendly relations between Taiwan and Japan.

On July 31, Abe Shinzo, described Lee as someone who "laid the foundation for Japan-Taiwan relations," and said that Lee had a "special sentimental connection" to Japan.

Lee was born under Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan in 1923 and received Japanese education during his younger years.

In 1943, he went to Japan to study at Kyoto Imperial University. In 1944, he followed in the footsteps of his older brother Lee Teng-chin by serving in the Japanese military in Taiwan.

Lee returned to Japan in 1945, graduating from Kyoto Imperial University the following year and only left for Taiwan after Republic of China forces took control of the island, following the defeat of Japan in the Second World War.

In an interview with Japanese Author Shiba Ryoutarou in 1994, Lee revealed he was a Japanese citizen until he was 22.

According to a new book by Taiwanese-Japanese Ota Kazuhiro to be published in August, Lee visited Japan nine times after he stepped down from presidency in 2000.

Due to his personal background and many visits to Japan, he was able to play an important role in establishing friendly relations with many Japanese politicians.

(By Yang Ming-chu and Emerson Lim)


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