TAIPEI (CNA) — The Legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee on Dec. 24 passed a non-binding resolution to ask Taiwan’s top envoy to Japan to give a briefing on the death of a Taiwanese diplomat, who committed suicide in Osaka in September.
According to the resolution, an ad hoc legislative committee will be formed to investigate the death of Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), late head of the Taiwan office in the Osaka area.
Su was found hanging by the neck at his residence in Osaka on Sept. 14 and is believed to have committed suicide due to a controversy over his office’s response to the plight of Taiwanese tourists who were stranded at a flooded airport in Japan during Typhoon Jebi earlier in the month.
In accordance with the legislative resolution passed on Dec. 24, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be asked to summon Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Taiwan’s top diplomat in Japan, to brief the ad-hoc committee on the circumstances surrounding Su’s death.
Hsieh and the foreign ministry had said earlier that Su had committed suicide mainly due to a rumor spread by a netizen in September, which alleged that Taiwan nationals had been left stranded at Kansai International Airport in Japan during the flooding after Typhoon Jebi, while the Chinese embassy there had sent 15 tour buses to evacuate China citizens.
It was later made clear that no vehicles other than the airport shuttle buses were allowed to depart from Kansai airport while it was flooded.
On Dec. 20, Su’s family released a statement contradicting MOFA and Hsieh’s comments, saying they had found no indication in a suicide note left by Su to support the claim that he had killed himself because he was troubled about the online rumor or the subsequent criticisms of him and his office.
The attempts to attribute Su’s suicide to “fake news and rumors” were “intentionally misleading,” and damaging to his reputation, his family said. According to local media reports, Su and all of his staff at the Osaka office, which has jurisdiction over the Kansai area, were facing demerits due to the airport incident.
Before his death, Su reportedly received phone calls from both Hsieh and his superior, Taiwan-Japan Relations Association (TJRA) Secretary-General Chang Shu-ling (張淑玲), asking him to take responsibility for the matter.
According to the reports, Su was asked to return to Taiwan and agree to a demotion, at the directive of Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).
On Dec. 24, however, Wu denied the reports, saying he did not give instructions for Chang to recall Su and there were no plans to penalize Su or the staff of the Osaka office. Chang and Hsieh on Dec. 21 made similar statements, denying they had called Su to talk to him about punishment in the wake of the controversy over the stranded Taiwanese tourists at the Kansai airport.
By Joseph Yeh