Japanese prime minister says Taiwan is ‘important partner’: report

Tokyo, March 30 (CNA) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that Taiwan is an important partner that shares mutual values and interests, while meeting with a Japanese lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who led a delegation on a visit to Taiwan earlier this month, Japanese media reported Thursday.

The meeting came after Keisuke Suzuki, a member of Japan's House of Representatives and also head of the LDP's youth division, led a delegation of young Japanese politicians on a visit to Taiwan March 18-20, during which they met with President Tsai Ing-wen (???), according to a report by Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper.

After his meeting with Abe to report on his Taiwan visit, Suzuki told reporters that the prime minister said that "Taiwan is an important partner that shares mutual values and interests with Japan" and that he hopes to use the youth division as the core for strengthening bilateral relations, the report said.

On March 21, Tsai also posted on her personal Twitter account that she hopes young Taiwanese and Japanese politicians will work hand-in-hand to deepen bilateral exchanges.

On the issue of Japan-Taiwan ties, the report also noted a visit on March 25 by Japan's Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Jiro Akama to Taiwan to attend an event to promote Japanese tourism.

Akama is the highest-ranking Japanese official to visit Taiwan since 1972, when the two countries severed diplomatic ties after Tokyo switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

His visit triggered a protest by China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory.

Asked about the issue on March 28, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Japan hopes to continue to promote its relations with Taiwan on the basis of the existing unofficial relations.

Japan and Taiwan are important partners and maintain close economic and people-to-people exchanges, he added.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel