Tsai, Abe pledge to jointly battle COVID-19

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (right) meets then Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (left) in Taipei in 2011. CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo exchanged messages of encouragement on Twitter on Tuesday and Wednesday, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, and pledged to work closely together to defeat the pandemic.

Abe on Tuesday declared a state of emergency to allow his country to better fight new coronavirus infections in major population centers, and he unveiled a stimulus package to soften the economic blow.

Shortly after the announcement, Tsai tweeted in Japanese that both countries have worked together before during major natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons, and said she is confident that together they can also win the battle against COVID-19.

On behalf on Taiwan, Tsai offered to donate surgical masks and medical supplies to Japan and to provide technical assistance in the fight against the pandemic.

In response, Abe retweeted Tsai’s post on Wednesday and thanked Taiwan for its warm support and offer of help.

“We can jointly overcome the challenge faced due to the coronavirus and get through this together,” he tweeted in Chinese.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference Wednesday that the matter of the masks offered by Taiwan is being handled by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA), the de facto Japanese embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official bilateral ties.

The Taiwan government is donating 10 million masks to countries seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including its 15 diplomatic allies, the United States, and 11 European countries.

The government said it is also considering making similar donations of face masks to other countries, including some of the 18 countries in its New Southbound Policy that covers Southeast Asia and South Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

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