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Taiwan-Japan relations a 'special partnership': Ma

Taiwan and Japan share a “special partnership” in which, despite lacking a legal diplomatic relationship, the two are closely tied in many respects, President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday while meeting with Ikeda Hiromasa (池田博正), vice president of Japan's Soka Gakkai (日本創價學會).

Ma recounted agreements and exchanges between the two countries. Taiwan is Japan's fourth biggest trade partner. The number of Taiwanese travelers visiting Japan ranks second in Japan's tourism industry, and vice versa. The two signed an agreement on working holiday opportunities for youths in 2009. Taiwan also has a consulate setup in Sapporo, Japan.

In addition to direct flights between Tokyo's Haneda Airport and the Taipei International Airport, Japan and Taiwan also signed an open skies agreement in 2011, allowing an unlimited number of Taiwan and Japanese carriers to operate scheduled flights between the two countries, as well as an unlimited number of flights between Taiwan and Japanese destinations outside of Tokyo. Furthermore, the two countries also signed a trade pact last year, the president said, recounting the many proofs of the close-knit relationship between Taiwan and Japan.

The establishment of the Yoichi Hatta Memorial Park (八田與一紀念館) in May 2011 is an example of Taiwan's recognition of the Japanese people who contributed to Taiwan's development; Taiwan treats issues without preconceptions, Ma said.

Soka Gakkai, literally “Value-Creation Society,” is a Buddhist movement within Nichiren Buddhism. It was founded in 1930 to promote social reform and reformation in Japan's education system. Ikeda Daisaku (池田大作), Ikeda's father and late president of the Japanese organization, had received an honorary citizen certificate from Ma during Ma's term as Taipei City mayor for his devotion in taking part in public services, Ma recalled.

There is also great warmth in the exchanges between Taiwan and Japan, the president said, illustrating his comment with Taiwan's donations to Japan after the March 11 earthquake in 2011. The support and warmth that Taiwanese people give to Japan strengthens the relationship between the two countries, the president asserted.

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