DPP presidential hopeful meets with Japanese legislators in Tokyo

Former Premier Lai Ching-te met on May 9 with a group of Japanese parliamentarians to discuss a range of issues of mutual concern, during a tour of the National Diet of Japan. (NOWnews)

TOKYO (CNA) — Former Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) met on May 9 with a group of Japanese parliamentarians to discuss a range of issues of mutual concern, during a tour of the National Diet of Japan.

Accompanied by Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Taiwan’s top envoy to Japan, Lai met with 38 young members of the House of Representatives from a group that is promoting economic and cultural exchanges between Taiwan and Japan.

Another 16 members of the group had a proxy attend the meeting on their behalf.

During the meeting, Lai, who is seeking to run for president in 2020, gave a speech on Taiwan-Japan relations in the new Japanese imperial era of Reiwa.

He said that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy of prioritizing domestic affairs over foreign affairs is similar to the national security strategy he has proposed.

Lai said that Taiwan internally should promote national security, social harmony and peaceful living, while seeking peace externally, including peace across the Taiwan Strait and in the wider region.

On Taiwan-Japan relations, Lai said Taiwan is one of Japan’s major partners in the areas of security, economy, and culture. Over 70 percent of Japan’s imports of energy resources are transported through the Taiwan Strait and the Bashi Channel, he said.

The frequent passage of Chinese warships and fighter jets through the Taiwan Strait and Miyako Strait in 2018 and earlier this year showed that China was not only targeting Taiwan but also presenting a challenge to the Japan-U.S. security alliance, Lai said.

He said he hoped Japan would support Taiwan’s efforts to gain membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) when the negotiations for the second round of membership begin.

In his speech, Lai also offered congratulations to Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito, who ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne earlier this month.

By Yang Ming-chu and Evelyn Kao