Biography of ex-president a big hit in Japan, Taiwan

By R.L. Chen, The China Post and agencies

Hundreds of curious readers and supporters yesterday packed a department store in Taipei to try to get autographs from former President Lee Teng-hui and the Japanese authoress of his biography. The appearance of Lee and the author, Fuyuko Kamisaka, in the book promotion activity created a stir from a number of people from the crowd, who screamed “I love you President Lee.” Lee gave a brief introduction of the authoress, saying every word of the biography,”President Inside the Tiger’s Mouth — Lee Teng-hui and Tseng Wen-hui,” is 100 percent true. Just ten minutes before Lee arrived, an angry opponent of Lee disrupted the venue by smashing up tables and chairs set up at the department store. Shouting “Down with Lee Teng-hui,” the man was eventually overpowered by security officers and was removed from the venue. The book was originally written in Japanese by Fuyuko Kamisaka and was translated into Chinese.

Both Chinese and Japanese versions of the biography are hot sellers in the two countries, showing that many have an interest in the life and times of Lee, once billed as Mr. Democracy, but now seen as a traitor by many KMT members.

In Japan, the book went to a second printing only two weeks after going on sale.

Earlier, the Japanese historian and novelist Fuyuko Kamisaka held a news conference in Taipei to thank the public, as the Chinese version of the book has hit the best-seller list just one week after its publication.

The book, through interviews with Tseng, Lee’s wife, depicts post-war Taiwan history and the political life and times of the former first couple.

Tseng attended the news conference to congratulate Kamisaka. Tseng said she has known Kamisaka for more than 20 years and praised her as a good historian and writer who has won many awards in her own country.

Tseng said the book is based on fact and that Kamisaka had visited Taiwan more than 10 times to do research.

She said she could help crying when she was reading the book. Kamisaka said that she planned to write the history of post-war Taiwan 15 years ago, and she finally decided that the story could be best told through the eyes of the former president and his wife.

The book sold briskly when it was first released in Japan, a phenomenon that Kamisaka attributed to the interest of the Japanese people in Taiwan and their affection for Lee.

The book was released at the time that Lee was seeking medical treatment in Japan, a visit that caused some controversy. The Japanese government was divided on whether to issue a visa to Lee in the face of mainland China’s strong objection. Beijing considers Lee a separatist who does not want unification with mainland China.

Lee’s strong criticism of the Japanese government also made many Japanese interested in reading the book, according to Kamisaka.

Peng Ming-min, senior adviser to President Chen Shui-bian, said that when Lee was president, he always felt strongly about leading Taiwan toward being a modern and democratic country.

Peng said that there were a number of things that Lee could not comment on while he was president, but now he can speak more freely, as is borne out in the book.