Difficult to push for Japanese version of TRA: Frank Hsieh

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Frank Hsieh responds to questions at a Legislative hearing on Taiwan-Japan relations on Nov. 2, 2017. The nation’s top envoy to Japan said it will be difficult for Taiwan to persuade the Japanese Diet to adopt a Japanese version of the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) – It will be difficult for Taiwan to persuade the Japanese Diet to adopt a Japanese version of the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the nation’s top envoy to Japan said on Thursday in Taipei.

Fielding questions at a Legislative hearing during which he briefed lawmakers on Taiwan-Japan relations, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) noted that the two countries are close partners on various fronts including regional security.

However, a major obstacle to achieving even closer ties, Hsieh added, is the lack of official diplomatic relations.

Hsieh said that because Japan severed official diplomatic relations with Taiwan abruptly in 1972, Tokyo does not have a law like the TRA. As a result, Taipei can only operate in an unofficial capacity in Japan, which “makes things very hard for Taiwan,” he added.

The TRA is a U.S. law that guides Washington’s relations with Taipei in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

Previous Japanese media reports have said that lawmakers from Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are trying to draft a Japanese version of the TRA that would seek to formalize the current unofficial ties.

Specifically, the law would create “a basis for strengthening economic relations and personal exchanges” with Taiwan, according to Japan-based Kyodo News report.

However, when asked if Taiwan can do anything to accelerate the adoption of such a law in Japan, Hsieh indicated “that would be extremely difficult” as Tokyo still adheres to a one-China policy and recognizes Beijing instead of Taipei.

Despite the lack of official ties, Hsieh said Taiwan continues to develop closer relations with Japanese local governments, city councils and non-government groups. For instance, Taiwanese and Japanese local governments have signed a total of 85 agreements or adopted town-twinning arrangements, he noted.

“We will continue to enhance relations with Japan using an incremental block-building approach,” he added. 

By Joseph Yeh