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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:52 03/09/2007
News Review #59: August 27, 2002

Japan official quits over Taiwan visit order

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE

"Japan official quits over Taiwan visit order"
Financial Times


Taiwan is not a nation for Japan, or for most of developed countries including U.S. In fact, except for thirty or so countries in the world, Taiwan is only a "region" not recognized as a legitimate sovereign state.

It is another legacy of WWII, after which China was separated into two regimes, one based on the continent and another on an island about a hundred kilometers off the coast. Until about thirty years ago, most of the countries in the world recognized the regime on the island as the authentic government of China, so what is now Taiwan was called China, and now China was called by some other name, one of the most colloquial being the "Red China." Then suddenly a shift in paradigm took place in early 70's. Within a few years, majority of nations around the globe changed their positions and acknowledged the regime in Beijing as the government of China, and Taiwan as Taiwan.

Taiwan has an area of thirty-six thousand square kilometers with twenty-two million people. What is more significant, however, is its economic strength. For example, per capita GDP is was thirteen thousand U.S. dollars in 2001, which is close to that of Spain or New Zealand, well surpassing that of any country in Asia except Japan and Singapore, while the figure for China is mere eight hundred fifty dollars. Japan exports 26 billion dollars to Taiwan and imports 13 billion dollars annually, compared to those of China at 31 billion and 58 billion respectively. Considering the fact that the population of Taiwan is only two percent of that of China, it is obvious that the relative significance is gigantic.

This year is the "30th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations" as dubbed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, while on the other hand, there is no indication by the government to celebrate or regret the 30th anniversary of breaking the official ties with Taiwan.

The article is about Kenichi Mizuno, a member of the Lower House assigned a governmental post of Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Although he was in no way against Japan's policy to support the regime in Beijing as the government of China, considering the close economic ties with Taiwan, he thought it would worth it to visit Taiwan, to commemorate these thirty years of absence of political relationship. However, the plan apparently infringed the bylaws of the Ministry, which prohibits any senior officer to visit Taiwan, and upon Minister Kawaguchi's judgment on rejecting his proposal for the trip, Mr. Mizuno decided to resign the post at the Foreign Ministry.

Mr. Mizuno is not an old guard with right wing or militaristic mind. He is young, still in his thirties, has worked at the offices of U.S. Senators Gorton and Gore (before becoming the Vice-President), and having the experience of meeting with the then Chinese Premier Li Peng.

The political implications of China and Taiwan are undoubtedly sensitive as well as very important for Japan. Nevertheless, it is also a fact that economic environment is vital for the people to lead bountiful lives. It is therefore interesting to see that young politicians such as Mr. Mizuno, free from the trauma of the war or its aftermaths, not obsessed with narrow-gage nationalistic ideas, and have had a decent level of international experience have begun to play larger roles in the country's policymaking.

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications