- Title: Japan's de facto embassy in Taiwan changes name to include "Taiwan"
- Date: 3rd January 2017
- Summary: TAIPEI, TAIWAN (JANUARY 3, 2017) (REUTERS) JAPAN'S REPRESENTATIVE TO TAIWAN, MIKIO NUMATA, ARRIVING AT CEREMONY OFFICIALS ARRIVING MIKIO NUMATA WALKING TO PODIUM
- Embargoed: 18th January 2017 09:26
- Keywords: China Taiwan Japan embassy de facto new name plague reveal unveil
- Location: TAIPEI, TAIWAN/BEIJING, CHINA
- City: TAIPEI, TAIWAN/BEIJING, CHINA
- Country: Taiwan
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015XJ0BB9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Ties between Japan and Taiwan are at their "highest", the top representative for Tokyo on the island said Tuesday, at the unveiling of the new name for Japan's de facto embassy in Taiwan, a move that has riled China.
"Today is the first working day of the new year, so it is fittingly a new start for this public interest incorporated foundation, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association. May the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association along with its Taiwanese counterparts work hard to develop even more the current Taiwan Japanese relations which are already at its historical highest level. Finally, may we continue to be blessed by the warmest guidance and help from the Taiwanese people. Thank you,' said Japanese Representative to Taiwan, Mikio Numata.
Tokyo's change to its mission's name comes at a sensitive time after China last month sailed a group of warships led by its sole aircraft carrier through waters south of Japan and then around Taiwan on its way to conduct more drills in the South China Sea early this week.
It has also drawn criticism from China because it included the word "Taiwan". China says the self-ruled island is a renegade province to be taken back by force if necessary, especially if it makes moves toward independence, and ineligible for state-to-state relations.
Japan's mission had been called the "Interchange Association, Japan" since it set up on the island in the 1970s. Japan has grown to become Taiwan's third largest trading partner and second largest source of foreign tourists.
"Taiwan and Japan enjoy the common basic value of free democracy, and are important partners and precious friends to each other," Taiwan's vice foreign minister Leo Lee said at the ceremony.
Japan, like most countries in the world, maintains only informal relations with Taiwan while it has diplomatic ties with Beijing - recognising China's position that there is only "one China" and Taiwan is part of it.
However, in the absence of formal ties, many major countries like Japan, Britain and the United States operate representative offices under various names as de facto embassies. The U.S. mission is the "American Institute in Taiwan".
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated the government's opposition.
"It's not the so-called embassy. It also does not stand for what you call 'de facto'. We firmly oppose any attempts to create two Chinas - one China, one Taiwan. We express our strong dissatisfaction to negative activities taken by Japan on the Taiwan issue. As far as I know, we have lodged representation to Japan," Geng told media at a regular briefing in Beijing.
China distrusts Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and her independence-leaning ruling party, which traditionally advocates independence and is seen as friendly to Japan.
China has stepped up pressure on Tsai in recent weeks following last month's protocol-breaking phone call between Tsai and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who then cast doubt on the United States' commitment to the "one China" policy. On the weekend, Trump didn't rule out meeting Tsai in the future.
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