New Taiwan President Quick to Meet Japanese Guests after Inauguration; Visit by Japanese Lawmakers Condemned by China’s Ambassador 

Ichiro Ohara / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te gives his inaugural speech in Taipei on Monday.

TAIPEI — Taiwan’s newly inaugurated President Lai Ching-te showed the importance he places on Japan on Monday by lunching with a Japanese nonpartisan group and meeting with various other guests from Japan immediately after taking office.

After finishing his inaugural speech outside the presidential office in Taipei, Lai had a lunch meeting with members of a nonpartisan group of lawmakers promoting Japan-Taiwan friendship. At the meeting, he expressed his gratitude for Japan’s support for Taiwan to date and called for continued support.

In response, Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Keiji Furuya, who leads the pro-Taiwan group, said, “Japan and Taiwan share the same values and we will continue working together going forward.”

According to Furuya, the lunch was proposed by Taiwan. “This symbolizes the depth of trust and the bonds between Japan and Taiwan,” he said.

Lai has stressed the importance of Tokyo-Taipei relations for some time and has broad connections in Japan. In 2022, he made an unofficial visit to Japan to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

On Monday, he also met with Abe’s widow, Akie, who attended his inauguration ceremony, and expressed his joy, saying that the friendship nurtured by Abe had continued to grow.

Additionally, Lai met with Yasuaki Tanizaki, the head of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, Japan’s liaison organization with Taiwan, and Yohei Sasakawa, the chairman of the Nippon Foundation, on Monday. Of the people Lai met with individually on Monday, the largest number came from Japan.

China condemns attendance

Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wu Jianghao expressed his opposition on Monday to the Japanese nonpartisan group’s attending the inauguration, saying that this was a move to publicly cooperate with the pro-independence forces in Taiwan.

Hayashi hopes for stronger ties

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi expressed a desire for deeper cooperation with Taiwan at a press conference on Monday while discussing Lai’s inauguration.

“Taiwan is an extremely important partner, as we share basic values and have close economic ties and people-to-people exchanges,” he said.

Hayashi explained that Japan would maintain its nongovernmental and practical relations with Taiwan. He also mentioned support from Taiwan for areas affected by the Noto Peninsula Earthquake. “Every time we have faced hardship, we have supported each other,” he said. “I hope the Japan-Taiwan friendship will deepen further under President Lai’s leadership.”