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DPP candidate Hsieh pleased with Japan visit

TOKYO, Japan — Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh said in Tokyo on Tuesday that he was pleased with the outcome of his trip to Japan.

Hsieh said that during his four days here, he held a number of meetings but declined to confirm rumors that he had a session with former Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso, one of Japan's leading political figures.

Hsieh arrived in Japan on Sunday for a visit ahead of Taiwan's parliamentary and presidential elections, to be held in January and March respectively.

"I myself am very pleased with this trip," Hsieh told The China Post after giving a speech at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan (FCCJ) in Tokyo.

Hsieh added that he believed it was unfair to the Taiwanese people that many people dare not speak up for Taiwan to avoid angering China. But "as a Taiwanese citizen, and the presidential candidate, I am very pleased that I spoke up and I've fulfilled my responsibility," he said.

In the speech to some 150 people at the FCCJ, the main gathering point for foreign journalists in Japan, Hsieh addressed the group in Japanese, and then switched among Mandarin, Japanese and English during the follow-up question and answer session.

When asked whether he had some private meetings during his trip, and whether those include the rumored meeting with the former Japanese Foreign Minister Aso, the ex-lawyer said, "I did have some private meetings. And when I said private, it's not able to be revealed."

In the speech, the DPP standard bearer said the ruling party emphasizes national security issues and Taiwan's identity over economic issues.

"We believe that without the security and sovereign independence of our nation, there would be no protection of our people's freedom, and other matters would be meaningless," he said.

"Some people misunderstand our situation to be like that of Hong Kong, which places importance on economic issues but not on national security issues. That is an incorrect interpretation," Hsieh added.

However, Hsieh, a former prime minister, is known to have a more pro-China stance than does President Chen Shui-bian.

Hsieh said if elected, he would relax Taiwan's limit on investments in China.

"China is a market Taiwanese enterprises cannot ignore," said Hsieh, "therefore the government will help companies like TSMC, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, to win over that market. But we don't encourage them to raise money in Taiwan and move to China."

However, he reiterated that "if I am elected, I will relax a bit on the investment limit in China, including the high-tech industry."

Hsieh's Japan trip is just a few weeks after the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou visited Japan. During his trip, Ma met with various Japanese politicians and called the trip a successful one.

Hsieh's trip was overshadowed to some extent by Japanese media reports that Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will make his first official trip to China in late-December.

Hsieh's trip started from Kyoto, where he gave a speech at Kyoto University, his alma mater.

Before leaving for Taipei on Wednesday, Hsieh was scheduled to meet with other Japanese politicians, including Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister, and Takeo Hiranuma, chairman of a pro-Taiwan parliamentary sub-group.

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