"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] President Ma Attends New Year Gathering of Japanese Expatriates in Taiwan

[Place] Taipei
[Date] January 7, 2009
[Source] Office of the president, Republic of China(Taiwan)
[Full text]

President Ma Ying-jeou on the evening of January 7 attended a New Year's reception hosted by the Japanese Association in Taiwan and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taipei (JCCI). In addition to enjoying a lion dance performance, the president delivered remarks and wished Japanese expatriates in Taiwan a Happy New Year.

Although the ROC (Taiwan) and Japan severed diplomatic relations in 1972, President Ma said, contacts between both sides remain extremely close. Cultural and economic interaction is especially strong, he said. Japan is presently Taiwan's second largest trading partner. In addition, weekly flights between Taiwan and Japan number over 300. After Taiwan and Japan began providing visa-free courtesies to tourists from each nation to the other, the number of visits has risen substantially, topping 2.5 million in 2007, the president said. Amid this situation in which the two do not maintain formal diplomatic ties, the bilateral relationship between Taiwan and Japan constitutes a special partnership, President Ma said. 

The president pointed out that since taking office on May 20 last year, he has aggressively promoted the i-Taiwan 12 Projects, adding that he has also sought to initiate a new thinking for Taiwan's international relations. The president said that designating the relationship between Taiwan and Japan as a special partnership is based on this new thinking. On another front, the president stressed that in light of the warming cross-strait relationship, as well as enhanced peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan in December of last year was able to become a party to the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Government Procurement. In the future, companies from Japan, the United States and Europe will have more opportunities to participate in government procurement projects here. President Ma said he is confident that this will attract even more foreign investment to Taiwan and will improve the quality of public infrastructure here, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved.

President Ma mentioned that an American risk assessment company carried out appraisals of Taiwan's investment environment in January and September last year. In the January survey, Taiwan's investment environment ranked 15th in the world. In September, Taiwan's ranking had jumped to fifth globally. The report expressed that the most important factor in the large rise in Taiwan's ranking was the improvement in relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, which has created a more peaceful and stable investment climate in and around Taiwan. The president stressed that the government hopes to transform Taiwan into a global innovation center, an epicenter for commerce and trade in the Asia-Pacific region, and the operating headquarters for firms run by Taiwanese businessmen. President Ma also noted that Tokyo's Haneda Airport will add a new runway next year. He hopes that this will pave the way for increased cooperation with Taipei's Songshan Airport, thereby providing more conveniences for travelers.

President Ma said avenues for dialogue between Taiwan and Japan have increased to 56 as of last year from only 22 in 2000. He believes that this number still has room to grow further, which the president said is the reason that he has designated 2009 as the year to promote the special partnership between Taiwan and Japan. President Ma reiterated that he will do his utmost to foster development of Taiwan-Japan relations during his presidency and establish mutual confidence at the highest levels, which will enable a true special partnership to be realized.