Profile: Hsieh Chang-ting (Frank Hsieh), 70, cofounded Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party in 1986. After serving on the Legislative Yuan and heading the DPP, he was premier of the Republic of China in 2005–06.
Hsieh is a true pro-Japan politician. When asked why he aspired to politics, he offered a surprising response: “To gain freedom, liberation, and rights. A spirit of defiance.” Would that mean opposition to Japan which once ruled Taiwan? No, what motivated him was just the opposite: envy. He says this is common among those born right after World War II who are pro-Japan.
He studied [jurisprudence] at Kyoto University from 1972 for about four years. “The students used to talk about being anti-authority or anti-establishment. You could see the impact of student movements. I would not have become a politician if I had not had contact with that atmosphere of freedom.”
There were a number of citizen movements in Japan in those days, including the Sanrizuka struggle [protesting the construction of Narita Airport] and protests against the Vietnam War. In contrast, martial law, which the Kuomintang administration had imposed in 1949, was still in place in those days in Taiwan. “I wondered about our society in Taiwan, where political and social movements were not allowed.” He was both shocked and angry.
When he returned to Taiwan, he started offering legal consultations for the poor and others as a lawyer. He entered politics in 1979 after the Kaohsiung Incident, where the Kuomintang cracked down on an anti-establishment movement. He became premier of the Republic of China, but also felt the bitterness of defeat in the 2008 presidential election.
Amid the cutthroat political world in Taiwan, he has held dear a proverb about sincerity: “The rose is in her hand, but the scent lingers in mine as well.”
Accompanied by the Kaohsiung City mayor and others, Hsieh visited Kumamoto Prefecture, which was heavily impacted by the recent earthquakes, with a relief donation in hand at the beginning of this month. “Taiwan has also developed economically, and I would like to strengthen our ties of good faith where we help each other in times of need.” From envy to partnership. Hsieh is committed to continuing his work so that strong ties can be passed down to future generations.