Taiwan to change name of body handling ties with Japan

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 March, 2017, 11:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 March, 2017, 11:21pm

The name of Taiwan’s organisation handling its relations with Tokyo in the absence of diplomatic ties is to be changed, the island’s Foreign Minister David Lee said.

Lee told a legislative committee that the Association of East Asian Relations, which is tied to the ministry, would change its name to what is loosely translated as the Association of Taiwan-Japan Relations. The ministry has yet to give the organisation an official English name.

The step, which will likely irk Beijing, comes after a name change for the Interchange Association, Japan’s de facto diplomatic office in Taiwan.

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The Interchange Association announced in December it would change its name to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, starting from January to make it more relevant to its mission. Taiwan’s foreign ministry welcomed the move, saying the new name reflected the organisation’s role in Taiwan and the positive development of the two sides’ ties.

However, Beijing expressed dissatisfaction, urging Japan to uphold the one-China principle, refrain from sending a wrong message to Taiwan and the international community and from creating new disturbances in China-Japan ties. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway Chinese province and tries to discourage foreign governments from establishing ties with its government.

A diplomatic source said the Association of East Asian Relations’ board members met last month and agreed on the name change.

Lee said on Monday the Executive Yuan, or cabinet, was still deliberating the ministry’s proposal of changing the name of the quasi-official body.

Hsu Kuo-yung, a spokesman for the Executive Yuan, said the cabinet approved the ministry’s proposal earlier in the day.

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The ministry has also been urged to change the name of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Tokyo.

Lee told the legislative committee that the ministry has been discussing the matter with Japan, but no progress had yet been made.

Taiwan and Japan severed diplomatic ties in 1972, a year after the UN recognised the People’s Republic of China as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations”.