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President Tsai and Vice President Lai attend birthday reception for Emperor Naruhito of Japan

2024-03-01
Presidential Office
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President Tsai Ing-wen delivers remarks.
President Tsai Ing-wen delivers remarks.
President Tsai and Vice President Lai Ching-te attend a reception celebrating the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito of Japan.
President Tsai and Vice President Lai Ching-te attend a reception celebrating the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito of Japan.
Vice President Lai delivers remarks.
Vice President Lai delivers remarks.
Vice President Lai shakes hands with Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Taipei Office Chief Representative Katayama Kazuyuki.
Vice President Lai shakes hands with Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Taipei Office Chief Representative Katayama Kazuyuki.

On the evening of February 26, President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President Lai Ching-te attended a reception celebrating the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito of Japan. The president stated that Taiwan-Japan ties are growing closer, and that Taiwan is ready to deepen its economic cooperation with more countries. She said that she greatly anticipates Taiwan's accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and that Taiwan can contribute more to global prosperity and development. She stated that Taiwan will continue to enhance its self-defense capabilities and work with like-minded countries to jointly safeguard the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region. President Tsai said she expects Taiwan and Japan will only continue to strengthen their vibrant and steadfast partnership to the benefit of both our peoples.

In her remarks, the president first offered her best wishes to Emperor Naruhito on his birthday and expressed hope that the friendship between Taiwan and Japan continues to grow. She stated that this year thus far, she has received many distinguished guests from Japan at the Presidential Office. She said that today she is delighted to see even more of our good friends from Japan, as well as many of our partners who have worked hard to advance Taiwan-Japan ties.

President Tsai pointed out that Taiwan and Japan share the values of freedom and democracy, and have also fostered close cultural and economic exchanges. Even more importantly, she said, when either one of us encounters difficulty, the other always offers care and encouragement at the earliest possible time. The president said she believes that everyone can sense the deep friendship Taiwan and Japan share, which is like that of family.

The president went on to say that over the past few years, Taiwan-Japan ties have been growing closer, especially in the areas of economic and trade relations, with bilateral trade having totaled US$75.7 billion in 2023. She said that as supply chains around the world are being restructured, bilateral cooperation can allow our respective industries to gain even greater advantages globally, a prime example of this being Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) new fabrication plant in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture, which opened February 24.

Mentioning that Taiwan is ready to deepen its economic cooperation with more countries, President Tsai said that she greatly anticipates Taiwan's accession to the CPTPP, and that Taiwan can contribute more to global prosperity and development.

President Tsai also thanked the Japanese government for reiterating the importance of peace in the Taiwan Strait, specifically in statements at the recent trilateral leaders' summit of the United States, Japan, and Korea; the foreign ministers' meeting of the US and Japan; and the foreign ministers' meeting of the US, Japan, and Korea. She said that Taiwan will continue to enhance its self-defense capabilities and work with like-minded countries to jointly safeguard the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

President Tsai expressed confidence that with the continued support in the new year from Chief Representative Katayama Kazuyuki of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Taipei Office and the guests present at the event, Taiwan and Japan will only continue to strengthen their vibrant and steadfast partnership to the benefit of both our peoples.

Vice President Lai then delivered remarks, saying it was an honor to be invited to the reception celebrating His Majesty's birthday. He sincerely wished Emperor Naruhito good health, good fortune, and long life, as well as prosperity for the nation of Japan.

The vice president also expressed his condolences once again for the damage and loss of life resulting from the Noto Peninsula earthquake in Ishikawa Prefecture, the birthplace of Hatta Yoichi, chief engineer for Tainan's Wushantou Reservoir and Chianan Canal. Those two hydraulic engineering projects made the Chianan Plain into Taiwan's premier rice-growing area, he said, and made a tremendous contribution to Taiwan's agricultural development. The vice president also expressed his sincere hope that through the Japanese government's efforts and the concern of one and all, disaster area reconstruction can be completed quickly so that those affected can return to their normal lives.

Vice President Lai noted that Taiwan and Japan are in close geographical proximity, and frequently face the threats of natural disasters and infectious disease. Over the past several decades, he said, both countries have shown mutual concern and provided assistance and support, developing deep affection amidst adversity. He said that throughout the world, this kind of friendship is seldom seen, and has spurred both countries to continue to expand and deepen cooperation in all areas.

Vice President Lai then stated that prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, each year 5 million visitors from Taiwan traveled to Japan and 2 million Japanese visitors came to Taiwan. He stated that although the pandemic impacted travel for three years, last year almost 4 million Taiwanese visited Japan and about 600,000 Japanese came to Taiwan. The vice president noted that with close bilateral economic and trade exchanges and cooperation, Taiwan is Japan's fourth-largest trading partner and Japan is Taiwan's third-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching US$80 billion in 2022.

The vice president went on to say that on February 24, TSMC held a ribbon-cutting and began mass production at a new fabrication plant in Kumamoto Prefecture, so Taiwan-Japan economic and trade exchanges are expected to achieve new milestones. As smart technologies proliferate worldwide, he said, Taiwan and Japan will certainly make further contributions to global economic prosperity and development. 

Vice President Lai stated that according to the most recent public opinion poll conducted by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan, nearly 80 percent of Japanese respondents said they feel "close" to Taiwan. He noted that results of a poll conducted by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association likewise showed that up to 80 percent of respondents in Taiwan share the same feeling about Japan. These are long-term, cumulative results, he said, involving people from all walks of life and diverse fields of endeavor. After taking office as president, the vice president said, he looks forward to continuing to strengthen Taiwan-Japan cooperation in all areas for mutual benefit based on our existing foundation.

The vice president also expressed gratitude to the Japanese government, saying that as the G7 host country last year, Japan included the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait among the key conclusions at the G7 Leaders' Summit and Foreign Ministers' Meeting. He said this emphasis on peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is an essential element of global security and prosperity, and does not permit any authoritarian country to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by non-peaceful means. Vice President Lai then said he looks forward to strengthening Taiwan-Japan cooperation by not only enhancing economic and trade relations and person-to-person exchanges, but also by contributing to stability in the Taiwan Strait and peace in the Indo-Pacific region.

Also in attendance at the event were Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Taipei Office Chief Representative Katayama and members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Taiwan.

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