Friday, June 29, 2007

Lee Teng-hui: "I cannot go to France!"

So, I finally talked to Lee Teng-hui!

So many people disapeared in one of the most abhorrent
scandal my country has known... Speaking at the
Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, 200
guests attended this record press event, I asked a few
questions to the 84-year-old former leader, one on the
risk of his visit to anger China, and one on the
Taiwan frigates scandal. His answer on the first
question follows but on the frigates, he simply
confessed with a sorrow in the throat that he cannot
even go to France, and voice his respect" for French
culture." He could have said more if my honorable
colleague Dennis had not cut me in the middle of my
question. Anyhow, Lee, quotes: " reiterated that
Taiwan is an "independent country" and urged Beijing
to promote democracy. On Yasukuni Shrine, which
honors Japan's war dead, Lee said, "There is no
rationale for a foreign government to say anything at
all about or criticize" visits by Japanese leaders to
the shrine because "it is natural to pay homage to
young people who died for their own country." Lee said
the problem of Yasukuni visits is an issue "made up by
mainland China and Korea" in an attempt to divert
criticism by their peoples away from domestic issues
that they have "failed to deal with." "Even so, the
Japanese government has been too soft in dealing with
them," he said.

The Yasukuni shrine venerates 2.5 million war dead
including colonial subjects and — most controversially
— 14 top war criminals from World War II. Lee said he
paid the pilgrimage to mourn his late brother, who is
enshrined as he died fighting in the Japanese navy in
1945 when Taiwan was Tokyo's colony. "There is no
reason for Japan to be criticized by foreign countries
or foreign governments over this kind of issue," Lee
said. "It is such a natural thing to honor young
people who died for their country." Japan's former
prime minister Junichiro Koizumi paid annual
pilgrimages to the Yasukuni shrine, infuriating China
and South Korea which refused any summits with him.
In a bid to improve relations, Koizumi's successor
Shinzo Abe has maintained a strategic silence on
whether he will go while in office, even though he was
a frequent visitor before becoming premier in
September. Lee angered Beijing during his 1988-2000
tenure by seeking a separate identity for Taiwan.

Beijing lobbed missiles near the island in 1995 and
1996, prompting the United States to send in warships.
In remarks that will likely trigger more furor in
Beijing, Lee repeated the island was already
effectively independent. "I won't be daunted at all
by whatever China says about Taiwan," Lee said. "The
people in Taiwan shouldn't care about it, either."
"The residents of Taiwan must hold the opinion that
this is our country, otherwise no one would help us,"
Lee said. China's defeated Kuomintang nationalists
fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the mainland's
civil war. Beijing considers the island a territory
awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. Lee's
remarks came hours after Chinese President Hu Jintao,
on the sidelines of a Group of Eight summit in
Germany, warned Abe to exercise caution on any
Taiwanese moves for independence. Abe replied there
was no change in Japan's policy of recognising only
Beijing. His government has said Lee was on a private
visit. As a Taiwanese, he does not need a visa to
enter Japan.

Only a dwindling handful of countries recognise Taipei
as China's legitimate government, with Costa Rica on
Wednesday switching allegiance to Beijing. Despite
repeated protests by Beijing, Lee said his trip to
Japan was "a big success" and he wants to visit again.
Taiwan was a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945 and
many Taiwanese tend to be friendlier than Koreans and
mainland Chinese towards Japan. But indigenous
Taiwanese leaders were outraged by Lee's visit to the
Yasukuni shrine, saying Japan has not yet atoned for
its colonial rule." End of quotes and memo.

Some Taiwanese officials and journalists asked me to
visit Taiwan, they want to invite me there. I'd say,
I ll go for sure once visit the province's museum...