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Top envoy to Japan sorry for planned no-show at Tokyo meeting

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's top envoy to Japan has apologized over a decision to not attend a Taiwan-Japan lawmakers' conference in March, Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday.

The apology has been accepted by Takeo Hiranuma, chairman of the Japan-Taiwan lawmakers' conference, Lin told lawmakers at a Legislative committee meeting yesterday.

The minister stressed that the incident did not affect bilateral ties.

Lin made the comments in response to lawmakers' questions regarding the incident that took place in Tokyo on March 24.

Taiwan's representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) was originally going to attend an annual gathering of the lawmakers' conference at 7 p.m. on March 24 that featured more than 100 Japanese lawmakers.

However, due to a protest staged in front of Taiwan's representative office in Tokyo, Shen ultimately decided not to join the gathering at the last minute for safety reasons.

Only one secretary of the office ultimately attended the event.

Shen's no-show angered many Japanese lawmakers, according to a Chinese-language Liberty Times report.

Asked to comment on the issue during the meeting yesterday, Lin said that Shen telephoned Hiranuma to express his apologies and to say that he would not be attending the gathering at around 4 p.m. on March 24.

Hiranuma had accepted Shen's apology and expressed understanding over the decision, Lin said.

Several groups of Japanese lawmakers have visited Taiwan recently following the March incident, showing that bilateral ties have not been affected, Lin said.

However, several opposition lawmakers of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the protest in front of Taipei's office in Tokyo had concluded at around 5:30 p.m. that day.

Shen and other Taiwanese officials should have had enough time to make preparations to attend the event instead of not attending at all, they argued, saying that the decision could jeopardize bilateral relations.

Shen took office as the nation's top envoy to Tokyo in May 2012. He has been previously criticized for his Japanese language abilities, with some arguing that they are insufficient for him to take up the post.

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