CHINA / DIPLOMACY
Japanese LDP presidential candidate holds talk with DPP's Tsai, risks undermining foundations of China-Japan relations
Published: Sep 22, 2021 12:15 AM


Liberal Democratic Party presidential candidates pose before a press conference in Tokyo on Friday ahead of the ruling party's September 29 election to choose a successor for outgoing LDP president and prime minister Yoshihide Suga. Candidates have used hostile rhetorics to make an issue out of China. Photo: AFP

Liberal Democratic Party presidential candidates pose before a press conference in Tokyo on Friday ahead of the ruling party's September 29 election to choose a successor for outgoing LDP president and prime minister Yoshihide Suga. Candidates have used hostile rhetorics to make an issue out of China. Sanae Takaichi, a presidential candidate for LDP, is the second from the right in the photo. Photo: AFP



Sanae Takaichi, a presidential candidate for Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), held an online meeting with Tsai Ing-wen, regional leader of the island of Taiwan, on Sunday. Chinese mainland experts warned that Japan's close ties with the island of Taiwan would undermine the foundations of China-Japan relations, while pointing out that Takaichi's promise to Taiwan is a political gesture that will not necessarily be kept.

On Sunday evening, Takaichi said through her personal Twitter account that she had just held an meeting with Tsai, via video link and through an interpreter, on security and other issues, and said that the video of the meeting would be made public in the future. The footage of the meeting shows Takaichi hanging the Japanese national flag and Taiwan's regional flag side by side in the background.

Later, Tsai confirmed the meeting on Twitter, writing, "I hope exchanges between [the island of] Taiwan and Japan will deepen further."

Takaichi has been the worst of the four presidential candidates in terms of her attitude toward historical issues, China-Japan relations and other areas, experts noted. Also, this is not the only recent exchange between the two parties.

Japan's LDP and Taiwan's DPP held a "2+2" security meeting online on August 27. Experts pointed out that the Japanese LDP has repeatedly carried out acts under the guise of party exchanges that are detrimental to the foundations of China-Japan relations.

In recent times, China-Japan relations have been severely damaged due to many differences, but economic trade and nongovernmental cooperation have not been interrupted and are still running at a relatively low level. However, if a candidate with Takaichi's political stance is elected and retains a similar attitude and maintains close ties with Taiwan, it could seriously damage China-Japan relations, Japan's relations with neighboring countries, and even break China's bottom line, Liu Jiangyong, vice dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Correspondingly, the Tsai's DPP authority has been very active internationally, making use of the US to draw in Indo-Pacific countries to pressure the mainland, Zhang Wensheng, a deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"The emergence of such an openly anti-China candidate in Japan is seen by Tsai as an opportunity," Zhang said. "It also reflects the difficult diplomatic situation for Tsai, who is hungry to try to give the Chinese mainland more trouble by approaching the Japanese LDP."

Liu pointed out that the promises Takaichi gave Taiwan before the election will not necessarily be kept if she is elected.

"For Japanese candidates, the declarations and promises they give before the election are partly true to their ideas, while many are just to appeal to the party atmosphere or public opinion, especially in trying to show a tough attitude on the military and China-Japan relations to earn votes, but they will not necessarily deliver on their promises if they are elected," Liu said. 

China's Foreign Ministry has previously said that China is firmly opposed to any form of official contact between its diplomatic partners and the island of Taiwan. China stressed that the Taiwan question concerns the political foundation of China-Japan relations. On the Taiwan question, the Japanese side bears historical responsibilities to the Chinese people for its past crimes and should especially be prudent with its words and actions. 


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