TAIPEI, Jan. 3, Kyodo — Japan’s de facto diplomatic establishment in Taiwan unveiled a plaque detailing its new name on Tuesday, hoping to push bilateral ties to a higher level.
“With the new name, we hope to continue to play the role of a bridge between Japan and Taiwan,” Japan’s de facto ambassador Mikio Numata said at the unveiling ceremony at the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, formerly known as the Interchange Association.
In addition to adding the names of Japan and Taiwan to the new title, a plum blossom, Taiwan’s national flower, was added to the first Chinese character of Japan, and a cherry blossom, Japan’s national flower, was added to the first Chinese character of Taiwan.
It will continue to use the logo which is similar to the flag of Japan. The red dot in the middle signifies the sun, while the four rays circling around it signifies the unique connection between Taiwan and Japan and their commitment to working hand-in-hand for more substantive relations, Numata said.
Numata said it is necessary to change the name because a poll conducted by the organization earlier last year indicated that only 14 percent of Taiwanese people surveyed said they knew about the association.
As the unofficial mission began to be known as the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association on Jan. 1, Numata said the name change marked a new beginning for bilateral ties.
Taiwan and Japan severed diplomatic ties in 1972, one year after the United Nations expelled “the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek” and recognized the People’s Republic of China as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.”
Seeking to maintain unofficial relations with the Republic of China — the official name of Taiwan — Tokyo established the Interchange Association as its diplomatic mission in Taiwan.
Over the past 45 years, non-official relations have remained vibrant.
Bilateral trade has grown from $1 billion to more than $57.9 billion in 2015 and the combined tally of visits to each country has grown from 200,000 to nearly 6 million last year.
In addition, various polls have showed that both peoples have a high sense of affinity with each other.
“We have developed a relationship that is hardly seen anywhere else in the world,” Numata said.
Chiou I-jen, president of Taiwan’s Association of East Asian Relations, said the name change was an undertaking that took a tremendous amount of time and required a lot of hard work.
“With the name change, I hope Taiwan and Japan will move bilateral ties forward one step at a time to a higher level,” he said.
The Association of East Asian Relations is a semi-official organization attached to the Foreign Ministry that handles Taipei’s relations with Tokyo in the absence of diplomatic ties.
Some have urged the Foreign Ministry to consider changing the name of that association following the name change of the Interchange Association.