Upon arrival at Haneda Airport, Tsai was greeted by Taiwan’s representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun, a group of her supporters and members of the Japanese media.
Her four-day trip, which she has dubbed a “Taiwan-Japan friendship tour,” is aimed at meeting friends and visiting Taiwanese expatriate communities ahead of Taiwan’s presidential election next January, she said in response to questions by Japanese reporters.
Tsai said she also hopes to meet with people in Japan who are familiar with the country’s efforts to cope with the challenges of globalization, and to talk with leaders in the industrial sector about possible cooperation between Taiwan and Japan in economic and industrial areas.
Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party favors formal independence from China; many of its members believe that Taiwan has its own distinct national identity. Presently, both the Chinese and Taiwanese governments consider Taiwan to be a Chinese province. Yet the Taiwanese do not recognize the communist regime as China’s legitimate rulers, and the Chinese do not recognize the Taiwanese government. Despite rare diplomatic meetings with China last year, Taiwan has been strengthening its military relationship with the United States.
The possibility of a stronger relationship between Taipei and Tokyo has important historical background: Japan ruled Taiwan for fifty years between 1895 and 1945. That popular Taiwanese politicians are warming to their old colonial ruler is bad news for Beijing.