'From 1905-1935, the area planted to sugar cane increased 500 per cent and, by 1939, Taiwan was the world's seventh-largest sugar producer. Arable land for rice production increased by more than 74 per cent during the Japanese period. Japan built 2,857 miles of railroad lines, modernised harbours and built 2,500 miles of highways. Japan transformed Taiwan into a society that was economically more modern than its neighbours.' The excerpts come from the government history of Taiwan and help to explain why Taiwan and Japan retain close economic, personal and political links, despite 31 years without diplomatic relations. They are an important reason for Beijing's propaganda war against Japan. It sees the right wing of the Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as one of the world's last political supporters of the island. These ties are symbolised by Lee Teng-hui, the first Taiwan-born president, who studied agricultural economics at Kyoto Imperial University from 1942 to 1943, before being conscripted into the army. Last December, when he obtained a rare visa for Japan, despite intense opposition from Beijing, he visited a museum in the memory of a Japanese farming specialist who played a major role in that transformation of his island's agriculture. Also conscripted into the Japanese army, his elder brother died in the Philippines and is one of 28,000 Taiwanese war dead remembered in the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. After the massacre which followed the Taiwanese uprising against the Nationalist government in February, 1947, leaving an estimated 28,000 dead, Japan became the most important place of refuge for Taiwan people. Many of the exiles are now prominent members of the ruling Democratic People's Party. Mr Lee and many Taiwanese regard the Japanese period in the same way that Indians regard British rule - colonial and unequal, with violent crushing of resistance, but a time of economic development, modern education and literacy. These memories became even warmer by comparison with the military rule and 'white terror' of the early Nationalist period. White terror describes methods used by the security services of the Nationalist government, after it took over Taiwan in 1945, to remove opponents. This included arresting people in the middle of the night and dropping them from planes into the Pacific Ocean. Taiwan is the only part of Asia formerly occupied by Japan which retains affection for the language, culture and lifestyle of the former master. This is reciprocated by many people in the ruling LDP, who have close personal ties with Taiwanese. The LDP is anti-communist. In June, 1957, then LDP prime minister Nobusuke Kishi visited Taipei and expressed his support for Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to 'recover the mainland'. The pro-military governments that ran Japan from 1931 to 1945 were even more anti-communist. It is one of the great ironies of history that it was only their invasion of the whole of China from 1937 that so weakened Chiang's regime that the communists were able to take power. If Japan had remained within their puppet state of Manchukuo, Chiang would have been able to defeat the communists - and we would be living in another country and another Asia.