Yoshiro Mori praises late ex-President Lee’s achievements at memorial

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori (front) speaks after attending a memorial for late Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui.

TAIPEI (CNA) — Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who led an inter-party delegation of parliamentarians to Taiwan to pay tribute to late Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) Sunday, expressed his gratitude and admiration for Lee’s contribution to the development of the Taiwan-Japan relationship.

Speaking at Taipei Guest House where a memorial has been set up for the late president, Mori reminisced about their friendship and the time they spent together as former leaders of their respective countries. While they held different views on some issues, it did not affect their friendship or respect for each other, Mori said.

It was a friendship that can serve as an example to future generations and help solidify relations between Taiwan and Japan, he said.

On an international level, Lee always encouraged Japanese in the post-World War II era to be confident and courageous and try to contribute to the international community, Mori said, adding that he believes that helped Japan to recover from its despondency in the wake of its defeat in the war. Although they were about the same age, Mori said, he learned a lot from Lee, particularly in the post-World War II period.

Lee passed away on July 30 at the age of 97.

Mori and his delegation, who arrived in Taiwan on a charter flight Sunday at about 2:30 p.m., met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) before visiting the memorial.

During the meeting, Tsai thanked Mori and the 16 members of his delegation for making the effort to pay their respects in person to Lee at a time when international travel is difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tsai said that she hoped to see continued cooperation between Taiwan and Japan in areas such as COVID-19 control, shared information on the pandemic, and the development of vaccines and medication.

In turn, Mori expressed the hope that the two sides would remain friends forever. He presented Tsai with a Japanese comic book that features her on the cover.

Speaking to reporters before his departure from Taiwan at 6:50 p.m. Sunday, Mori said he was grateful for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s arrangements for the delegation’s one-day visit to Taiwan to pay respects to Lee.

Mori said he is on dialysis treatment and cannot be away from Tokyo for too long.

The Japanese delegation was the first from a foreign country to visit Taiwan to pay tribute to Lee.