Taiwan gives go-ahead to exhibition in Japan after museums row resolved

Display of treasured artefacts to open as planned after Tokyo agrees to reinstate full name of Taiwan’s National Palace Museum in publicity materials

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 6:08pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 3:35pm

An exhibition of treasured artefacts from Taiwan’s National Palace Museum will open in Japan on Tuesday as planned, after Taipei and Tokyo resolved a row over the museum’s name, officials said on Monday.

“Based on the mutual trust and longtime friendship between our two museums, I have decided to attend the opening ceremony of the exhibition in Tokyo in the afternoon”, said the Taiwan museum’s director Fung Ming-chu before she boarded a flight to Japan on Monday morning.

Fung said her decision came after Tokyo National Museum, the chief organiser of the exhibition, agreed to remove or replace all posters and publicity materials that omitted the word “national” from the Taiwan museum’s full title.

Last Friday, the Taiwan museum gave its Japanese counterpart up to 11pm last Saturday to correct the names after learning that its full title was not being used on the materials as they had previously agreed to do in writing.

The Tokyo museum argued that the omission was the work of some of its sponsors, who followed the traditional practice of recognising the notion of “one China” and therefore would not refer to Taiwan as a nation.

But the claim further incensed Taipei, spurring Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou to order the cancellation of the exhibition of the full name of the Taiwan museum was not reinstated by the deadline given.

Taiwanese first lady Christine Chow Mei-ching also cancelled her plan to lead a delegation to Japan on Sunday to attend Monday’s opening ceremony.

Taiwan, a self-governed island, does not consider itself part of China despite Beijing’s insistence that it is part of the mainland subject to eventual reunification.

Officials from the Taiwan museum said on Monday that all large billboards along the Japanese railway line and Tokyo subway stations that had previously referred to the museum as the “Palace Museum, Taipei” had already been replaced.

The Japanese museum had also agreed to replace all other posters and publicity materials before next Monday, they said.

“I feel that the Tokyo National Museum owes us an apology because of the confusion,” Fung said.

The exhibition, which opens to public on Tuesday, features 231 treasured artifacts that will be displayed at the Tokyo National Museum and Kyushu National Museum.

The display, which runs until November, marks the first time that Taiwan’s National Palace Museum has loaned out its valuable collection for exhibitions elsewhere in Asia. The collection includes its most famous art pieces, the Jadeite Cabbage with Insects and the Meat-shaped Stone.

The Taiwan museum has 650,000 precious artefacts, which were originally housed in Beijing’s National Palace Museum. The artefacts were shipped to Taiwan shortly before the communists defeated the nationalists at the end of a civil war in 1949.