The Transformation of Taiwan-Japan Relations from a Historical Perspective

Written by Li-Hsuan Cheng. On July 8th 2022, Abe Shinzo, the longest serving prime minister in postwar Japan, was assassinated while campaigning for an LDP candidate in the coming election for  Upper House. While this tragic incident shocked countries worldwide, few societies like Taiwan showed such strong and wide remorse. Even in Japan, where Mr Abe had enjoyed unprecedentedly high and long support, like most leaders of democratic countries, he could not escape scandals and policy failures that eventually damaged his public support. However, despite some criticisms of Abe’s attitude toward war responsibilities in Taiwan, the mainstream society largely held a very favourable view toward him. One obvious reason is the significant progress in the Japan-Taiwan relation during his terms as prime minister.

Taiwan, Japan, and a Turning Point of Cold War Legacies in East Asia

Written by Kuan-Jen Chen. On 8 July 2022, two gunshots not only ended Japan’s former prime minister Abe Shinzo’s life but also convulsed international politics in East Asia. The debates on Kishida Fumio’s diplomatic policy and the power reshuffling within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have had the share of the international spotlight for their inextricable connections with Taiwan and the East Asian region. The amicable relationship between Japan and Taiwan is well-renowned. If you stroll in any city in Japan, it is not hard to find a slogan banner of “Thank you, Taiwan!” to express Japan’s appreciation for Taiwan’s help after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Ten years later, when Taiwan underwent the grave hours of the pandemic, Japan, pushed by Abe Shinzo, generously provided vaccines for Taiwan, saving numerous lives. These instances mark that these two countries seemingly have an unbreakable official relationship. However, the fact is that historically and politically speaking, Japan has been maintaining a distant but close relationship with Taiwan.

The Political Challenges to Taiwan’s Bid to Join the CPTPP

Written by Tian He and Michael Magcamit. Taiwan is becoming increasingly isolated in the regional economy. The virtual signing of the RCEP on 15 November 2020 was a milestone for Asia’s regional economic integration. Although it is debatable whether the RCEP is a Chinese-led initiative, China is undoubtedly a significant player capable of shaping regional economic rules. Taiwan was excluded from this major trade deal despite being a technology powerhouse and an important trading nation that has spurred Asia’s integration with the world economy in the post-war period. Taiwan’s main regional economic competitor, South Korea, is far ahead of Taiwan regarding regional integration. It is believed that South Korea has free trade agreements (FTAs) with around three-quarters of regional economies. Under these circumstances, the CPTPP can be an opportunity for the Tsai administration to overcome its diplomatic isolation and revive the economy through deepening regional economic integration. Accordingly, Tsai has stressed the importance of the trade pact, stating that joining the CPTPP would strengthen Taiwan’s key strategic and economic position by further integrating the island-state with the rest of the world.

Gatekeeper’s Dilemma: Japan Facing CPTPP Applications from China and Taiwan

Written by Saori N. Katada. For more than a decade, the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has been vital to the Japanese government’s economic agenda. This mega free trade agreement encompassing the Asia Pacific, originally negotiated among twelve members, has aimed not only at creating a large free trade area among the members but also installing the most advanced trade and investment rules in the region. After joining its negotiation in 2013 and especially since the 2017 US exit from the agreement, Japan has been taking a leading role in shaping and protecting this scheme. Finally, in December 2018, the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement of the TPP (CPTPP) came into effect with the remaining eleven members. Despite the US absence, it began to attract interest among others to join.

Cashing in Taiwan’s Chips: Trade Deals and Divergent Interests from Washington and Tokyo

Written by Shihoko Goto. The momentum for Taiwan to be an integral part of the global economic community is reaching unprecedented levels. Taiwan’s ability to keep the pandemic at bay when the international community was first gripped by the rapid spread of covid in early 2020 certainly opened the world’s eyes to Taipei’s efficient, capable responses to emergencies. But the disruptions to global supply chains and the recognition of Taiwan dominating the international semiconductor manufacturing market have catapulted Taiwan’s economic standing. At the same time, growing concerns about ensuring the status quo in cross-Strait relations have only raised awareness of the fragile situation that Taiwan finds itself in. The question is whether Taiwan has suitably leveraged its advantages to ensure its economic prospects and safeguard its future.

A Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP): A Game of Go? Or Three-dimensional Chess?

Written by Chun-Yi Lee and Michael Reilly. The CPTPP is an ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreement (FTA) signed between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam in March 2018. The CPTPP was originally named as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and comprised twelve members. However, after the Trump administration withdrew the USA from it in 2017, the remaining eleven countries reorganised and renamed it. After leaving the EU, the UK applied to join in February 2021, followed by China and Taiwan in September. South Korea has been considering joining but has yet to do so. Countries seeking to join the bloc must negotiate tariffs and other market access conditions with each of the eleven original members. 

Bridging Islands of/beyond Borders: Dongyin and Yonaguni

Written by Yi-Yu Lai. While the COVID-19 has stopped many individuals from travelling and interacting over the last two years, some cultural exchanges that we never expected to see have emerged during the pandemic. For example, on February 18th, 2022, people in Dongyin, an insular township in Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, had their first online workshop with those from Yonaguni, an island that belongs to Okinawa. Both islands are considered frontiers in their respective countries, and they had many comparable fates throughout history. Therefore, such a cultural exchange between the islands was particularly impressive because it was an activity with the islands as the focal point.

Remembering Chiang Kai-shek in Japanese Media

Written by Robert Hoppens. Just before midnight on April 5, 1975, Chiang Kai-shek (b. 1887), long-time leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and president of the Republic of China (ROC), died at his home in Taipei at the age of 87. Around the world, Chiang’s death occasioned media retrospectives on his long career and speculation about the future of Taiwan, where his government had spent the last quarter-century in exile.

Becoming an Anti-Communist Stronghold: The KMT’s ‘Strategic Transition’ and Emergence of the ROC in Taiwan with Imperial Japanese Assistance, 1945-1952

Written by Ko-Hang Liao. The joint statement between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on April 16, 2021, once again caught everybody’s attention on serious concerns of the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait upon the continuing escalation of challenges from China on possibly changing the status quo by force or coercion. This was the first time that Taiwan was mentioned in a US-Japan leaders statement since 1969. Although the situation seems to be frequently changing, it is essential to understand the current tension historically. Indeed, studying the early Cold War period can reveal much about what is happening and how Taiwan has come to the recent position.

The US’ Role in the Most Dangerous Place on Earth: Not Handling the Taiwan Issue Alone

Written by Christine Penninga-Lin. For years Taiwan and its people live in a bizarre universe; the situation of the Taiwan strait and the Chinese escalation of military threat on Taiwan have made it a regular on the potential conflict outbreak point chart. But anyone who’s visited Taiwan in the recent two decades would hardly conclude their stay in Taiwan as unsafe or that the country is socially unstable.

Continuities’ Strategy through Poetry’s Writing, Translation and Editing of the Translingual Poet Ch’en Ch’ien-wu 陳千武 (1922-2012)

Written by Sandrine Marchand. In Taiwan, 1945 marks the end of the Japanese colonisation. For many Taiwanese intellectuals and writers, it also means the abandonment of the Japanese language for Mandarin. But a language cannot be erased as quickly as architecture or other material goods. The language of childhood – the language of education – stubbornly persists. After this initial silent period, in the 1970’s – thanks to the Nativist movement – there has been a revaluation of pre-war Taiwanese writers gathered under the appellation of “a translingual generation” as they emerged from the shadows.

Why Taiwan Should Pay More Attention to the Futenma Relocation Issue in Okinawa, Japan

Written by Mari Uchima. Most analyses of Taiwan’s security focus on cross-strait relations and the U.S.-China military balance. What is mostly missing in the debate is that the U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Japan, are critical to any U.S. defence of Taiwan due to their geographic proximity. Therefore, Taiwanese and analysts and students of Taiwan’s security should pay more attention to the ongoing developments there, as they have implications for Taiwan’s security.

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