By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
A quasi-official organization set up by Taiwan to handle Taiwan-Japan relations will soon change its name to add the words “Taiwan” and “Japan” to its official title to signify reaching a new level of bilateral relations, according to a Taiwanese official. The name of Taiwan’s Association of East Asian Relations (AEAR, 亞東關係協會), which handles bilateral affairs in the absence of official ties, will soon be changed to the Association of Taiwan-Japan Relations (台灣日本關係協會), Tsai Ming-yaw (蔡明耀) — outgoing head of the association — said at a news briefing on Tuesday. The name change will take place very soon, Tsai said. Tsai refused to confirm whether or not Japanese officials would be invited to Taiwan to join the ceremony, saying only that preparations are being made but no final decisions have been reached.
“The name change is to make people understand the function of the association in the hope that Taiwan-Japan relations can elevate to the next level,” he said. A source close to the matter told The China Post that the ceremony is scheduled to be hosted mid-May by Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), chairman of the AEAR.
Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association head Mikio Numata (沼田幹夫) will also be invited to the event, according to the source. The announcement comes after Japan changed the name of its de facto embassy in Taiwan from the Japan Interchange Association to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association in January. The Japan Interchange Association was formed in 1972 and functioned as a de facto embassy in Taiwan after Tokyo broke official diplomatic relations with Taipei in favor of Beijing. It is headquartered in Tokyo and maintains branch offices in Taipei and Kaohsiung. The Association of East Asian Relations was promptly formed later in the same year. The Japanese decision drew criticism from Beijing, which expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the move and called on Japan to uphold the “One China” principle. Following the name change of the Japanese association, Taiwan lawmakers called for the Association of East Asian Relations to change its title as soon as possible to mirror the fashion of the Japanese change. Meanwhile, Tsai Ming-yaw — who will take over as the Foreign Ministry’s chief secretary later this month — also announced his successor as Chang Shu-ling (張淑玲).