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Thursday, February 22, 2024

The first visit of the Taiwan High Representative to Japan in 50 years. The reason for Shinzo Abe’s funeral

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Taiwan vice president William Lai attended the funeral of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who died on Friday in the assassination attempt. This is the first visit by a high-ranking Taipei official to the country since 1972, when Japan severed official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, notes the Taiwanese CNA agency.

Taiwan vice president William Lai attended the funeral of the former prime minister Japan Shinzo Abe. According to the CNA, the visit is private. Lai was filmed by the Japanese media alongside Taiwan’s representative in Japan, Frank Hsieh, as he entered Abe’s mansion.

Taiwan president spokesman Xavier Chang said Lai and Abe were longtime friends, but did not comment on the vice president’s visit to Japan. The government in Tokyo also confirmed the visit, but declined to provide details, including information on the length of the visit.

Taiwan Vice President William LaiReuters Archive

Taiwan expresses its condolences after the murder of Shinzo Abe

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Shinzo Abe was shot at close range during a speech in front of a train station in the western prefecture of Nara. The attack took place on Friday, two days before the elections to the upper house of the Japanese parliament. The death of the former prime minister caused a stir in Taiwan, where he was widely regarded as a friend and promoter of good Taiwanese-Japanese relations.

On Monday, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, along with other representatives of the government and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, expressed condolences at the headquarters of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, which acts as Japan’s de facto embassy on the island.

While offering condolences, the Taiwanese president bowed to the photo of the former prime minister to express her respect. She reported that she had known Shinzo Abe for over 10 years and he was her friend.

Shinzo Abe in 2017PAP / EPA / KIMIMASA MAYAMA

According to Tsai, Abe planned to visit Taiwan before his death. She also emphasized that the former prime minister had for many years supported Taiwan in times of crises, widely promoted Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, and tried to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

On Monday, under a presidential regulation, flags on Taiwanese government buildings and schools were lowered to half-mast. Since Friday, Taiwan’s tallest building, Taipei 101, is lit up with signs paying homage to Abem. The Japanese-Taiwanese Exchange Association has also opened a special room so that Taiwanese can pay tribute to the politician’s memory.

Main photo source: Reuters Archive

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