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Tsai calls for Taiwan-Japan talks on security
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Photo courtesy of CNA
Taipei, March 2 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen has said she would welcome dialogue with Japan at the governmental level to discuss security, according to an exclusive interview published Saturday in the Sankei Shimbun.

The Japanese newspaper noted that there is no direct dialogue or framework for cooperation between Taiwan and Japan in areas such as security and there is no move toward that at the moment.

The main reasons are that Beijing claims "Taiwan as an inseparable part of China" and there are no diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Japan, the paper said.

A substantive cooperation between Taiwan and Japan is necessary, particularly on the security threats in East Asia, Tsai said in the interview.

Asked to elaborate, Tsai said the two sides should discuss security threats on the military front as well as in areas such as cyberwarfare.

Taiwan and Japan both face the risk of their democratic institutions being undermined by fake news and paid internet trolls, Tsai said.

For example, she said, a fake news report last September, which claimed that the Chinese consulate in Osaka had evacuated Chinese tourists from Kansai International Airport during a flood, caused chaos in Taiwan society because Taiwan visitors there were stranded for a long time.

Taiwan's office in Osaka came under heavy criticism and an experienced Taiwan diplomat there committed suicide, as it was made to appear that the office had failed to assist stranded Taiwanese travelers at the airport, in the way China reportedly had done, Tsai said.

The greatest challenge facing democratic countries in these times is maintaining an intact and properly functioning democracy, she said.

While expressing gratitude to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's for his solid support of Taiwan, Tsai said the focus at the moment should be on building cooperation in the area of trade and security and taking bilateral relations to the next level.

Tsai said her government is hoping to hold discussions with Japan and come up with a mutually acceptable solution on the issue of Taiwan's ban on imports of agricultural products and food from Fukushima Prefecture, following a vote last November by the Taiwan public to maintain the restrictions.

Relations between the two sides suffered a setback after the referendum and when Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono subsequently said the Japan government was considering taking the case to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In January, Tsai said her administration would continue to communicate with Japan in the spirit of the WTO on the issue of the ban, which was imposed shortly after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011.

Meanwhile, when asked about Chinese President Xi Jinping's "one country, two systems" proposal on Jan. 2 with regard to Taiwan, Tsai said she had made it crystal clear in an address later the same day that Taiwanese would never accept such a system.

On the question of Xi's motives in putting forward such a proposal, Tsai declined to speculate but eventually said Xi may have been under some domestic political pressure or had misjudged the will of the Taiwanese people.

The interview in the Sankei Shimbun followed Tsai's appearance on the CNN program Talk Asia last week.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Tsai is aiming to amplify Taiwan's voice in the international arena in an effort to deepen global understanding of its current situation.