(Sankei: October 9, 2015 – Top Play)
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a Taiwanese presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, the president of the Democratic Progressive Party, the largest opposition party, happened to be at the same hotel in Tokyo past noon on Oct. 8. Although both the Japanese government and the Tsai’s side deny the two met, they seem to have met unofficially. Tsai, who is planning to run for the presidential election scheduled for January next year, is leading public opinion surveys and considered the likeliest next president.
It is possible that predicting the change of the Taiwanese administration, the two leaders confirmed a cooperative relationship between Japan and Taiwan.
The prime minister stayed at the hotel for about 1 hour 20 minutes from past noon. Abe reportedly had lunch with former Vice Foreign Minister Nobuo Kishi, Abe’s real younger brother, Yamaguchi Prefectural Governor Tsugumasa Muraoka, and Yamaguchi Prefectural Council Chairman Motonari Hatahara.
The Democratic Progressive Party explained that Tsai was at the same hotel during the same period of time for lunch with “Interchange Association, Japan” Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi.
Tsai visited on Oct. 7 Yamaguchi Prefecture, Abe’s hometown. Kishi accompanied Tsai. Muraoka met Tsai at the prefectural government office. It seems that Tsai aimed to demonstrate a stance of attaching importance to the relationship with Japan.
Regarding a possible meeting between Abe and Tsai, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized on Oct. 8 in a press conference, “That was not on the schedule.” Tsai also denied there was a meeting by saying, “It is a speculative story.” Both two sides deny the meeting, probably because China strongly opposed Tsai’s visit to Japan. If such a meeting became known to the public, China would inevitably protest.
A source familiar with Japan-Taiwan relations pointed out: “If Tsai becomes the Taiwanese President, she will not be able to visit Japan. She probably met with the prime minister before she takes office.”
When former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui came to Japan in July, Abe secretly met Lee. Both the Japanese government and the Lee’s side denied there had been a meeting.
Tsai was a professor at National Chengchi University in Taiwan. As an advisor to then President Lee in the late 1990s, she became involved in drawing up Taiwan’s policy toward China.