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Japanese FM's Remarks on Taiwan Undermines Sino-Japan Ties
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The Japanese Foreign Minister's repeated remarks calling Taiwan "a nation" and glorifying Japan's past colonial rule there gravely undermine Sino-Japanese ties by distorting history and violating the 1972 Sino-Japanese Joint Statement.

In response to a question on Japan-Taiwan relations at a session of the House of Councilors Budget Committee on Thursday, Taro Aso said Taiwan "is a country that shares values with Japan," the Kyodo News Agency reported.

Shortly after his statement on Thursday, Aso amended it, "calling it (Taiwan) 'a region' would have been accurate," he said. However, it was not the first time that Aso had made such a blatantly false statement about Taiwan by distorting history.

On Feb. 4, the foreign minister called Taiwan "a nation" during a speech in Fukuoka.

Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China. In 1895, after a war of aggression against China, Japan compelled the Qing government to sign the one-sided Treaty of Shimonoseki and forcibly occupied Taiwan.

Following Japan's World War II defeat in 1945, Taiwan was returned to China as required by the 1945 Potsdam Proclamation and the 1943 Cairo Declaration.

Chinese diplomatic experts have said that Aso's blatant and repeated provocative remarks, which distorted history, reflected the position of Japan's right-wing forces and his personal political ambition.

Aso has taken an uncompromisingly hard-line attitude toward China, in a bid to win over the Japanese right-wing and create an image of a tough politician.

As Japan's top diplomat, Aso has also failed to honor the Japanese government's commitment, and has thus weakened Tokyo's credibility.

In the joint communique signed by China and Japan in 1972 on the normalization of their diplomatic ties, Japan recognizes the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the only legitimate government of China, and indicates that it fully understands and respects the Chinese government's position on Taiwan as being an inalienable part of the territory of the PRC.

China was shocked by the Japanese Foreign Minister's recent remarks which contradicted the China-Japan Joint Statement, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang on Thursday.

On February 4, the foreign minister attributed the currently high education standards of Taiwan to Japan's colonization during its militaristic era and called Taiwan "a nation" during a speech in Fukuoka.

Aso said in his speech that "thanks to the significant improvement in educational standards and literacy (during the colonization), Taiwan is now a country with a very high education level and keeps up with the current era."

In fact, the Taiwanese people were forced to study and speak Japanese during Japan's cruel colonial rule. The compulsory education implemented by Japan was actually part of its enslavement policy aimed at enforcing the Taiwanese people's obedience.

Aso received strong international criticism for his comments which both cast a slur on Chinese people, and appeared to celebrate his nation's destructive militaristic era.

International news media said Aso lacked the required basic political qualifications as a foreign minister because he frequently contradicted himself.

An editorial carried by the New York Times said that his "sense of diplomacy is as odd as his sense of history."

By glorifying Japan's colonial rule in Taiwan and once again calling the Chinese island province "a country", Aso, in his high-profile role, has grossly interfered with China's domestic affairs and undermined Sino-Japanese relations.

It is extremely unwise for a Japanese foreign minister to make provocative remarks time and time again on the issue of Taiwan, which is of central interest to China.

Aso's remarks will only negatively impact on Japan's diplomatic profile in Asia, and its international image, causing damage to relations between China and Japan which are crucial for both sides.

"The move, just like lifting a rock only to drop it on his own feet, defies human justice and conscience and will ultimately not be of benefit to Japan itself," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said, commenting on Aso's remarks.

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2006)

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