LDP leadership contender Sanae Takaichi holds rare talks with Taiwan president

22-Sep-2021 Intellasia | JapanTimes | 7:07 AM Print This Post

Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Sanae Takaichi, a contender in the LDP presidential race, held rare talks with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday.

The conservative politician, who is known for her hawkish views on China, held the online meeting with Tsai in her capacity as the head of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Takaichi said on Twitter, with discussions focusing on ways to deepen security and business exchanges between the two neighbours.

“The talks proceeded smoothly via an interpreter, and we were able to hold positive discussions aimed at expanding and deepening security and business exchanges,” Takaichi wrote, adding that a video of their talks would be released on YouTube soon.

Writing on Twitter, Tsai called the “short” online meeting with Takaichi “a very meaningful exchange of opinions.”

It is extremely rare for politicians, especially a contender for the LDP presidency and in this case a possible prime minister, to hold meetings with senior Taiwanese officials, let alone the country’s leader.

Although Taiwan and Japan do not have formal diplomatic ties, the two sides have long maintained a robust relationship that includes economic and cultural exchanges.

In recent months, their ties have grown closer than ever, as Tokyo has become far more vocal in the public sphere about its concerns over China’s assertiveness, especially its actions near the self-ruled island and in the East China Sea.

Among the candidates in the September 29 LDP leadership election, Takaichi, a former internal affairs minister, is widely seen as taking the strongest stance against Beijing.

China claims Taiwan as a renegade province that must be brought back into the fold by force, if necessary and regards it as a core issue.

Takaichi has called the chance of a conflict erupting over Taiwan “high,” pledging that her government would be prepared to respond to any emergency situation. On Sunday, she raised eyebrows as the sole candidate to say that she would accept a US deployment of ground-based intermediate-range missiles in Japan amid the growing security threat from China.

“Deploying intermediate-range missiles is absolutely necessary to protect the lives and territory of the Japanese people,” she said.

Although she placed third in a weekend Kyodo News poll of LDP members on the most suitable candidate to be party leader and effectively Japan’s next prime minister, Takaichi has seen a groundswell of support in recent days.

According to the Kyodo poll, Takaichi garnered the support of 15.7 percent of respondents, trailing former Foreign minister Fumio Kishida at 18.5 percent and far behind vaccination czar Taro Kono at 48.6%.

The conservative lawmaker has also garnered the endorsements of some of the party’s most outspoken China hawks, including former prime minister Shinzo Abe; Abe’s brother and current defense chief, Nobuo Kishi; his deputy, State minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama; as well as former defense chief Tomomi Inada, among others.



Category: Japan, Taiwan

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