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April 26, 2017

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Japan MP calls for patience amid changing times

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Nations that support free trade such as Japan and Taiwan should be patient and wait out the current hostile political trend, Keisuke Suzuki, director of the Youth Division of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said on Monday during the last day of his visit to Taiwan.

Suzuki described Taiwan and Japan as the top two democratic countries in the region.

The Japanese lawmaker told The China Post that he felt at ease in Taiwan "because this is a country of freedom, liberty, human rights."

"We share many values, so there's no frustration or stress for me to be here. So this is one of the really rare cases in this region," he said.

A stalwart supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Suzuki suggested Japan should not see the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to pull out of the TPP as a defeat of the agreement, or as an invitation for China to take the driver's seat.

"What is important is to build up a kind of regional treaty which guarantees the rule of law, or our respect for the leadership property rights issue, or freedom of navigation, or human rights issues," he said.

"In that context, Japan and the U.S. should be the driver of innovation because we are the two countries with the longest experience in that context."

Suzuki described a regional agreement spearheaded by Beijing as a risky prospect.

"Such innovation which excludes the United States and includes China is really risky … even if Japan and maybe Taiwan or Australia, India get together, I think we are not strong enough to counterbalance the Chinese influence," he said. "And if mainland China sits in the driver's seat position in technical innovation, the outlook should be miserable, the outlook should be far from the rule of law or our values like that."

"So maybe Donald Trump would come back, or maybe the U.S. itself would come back, so we need to be patient, to wait," he stressed.

Suzuki led a Japanese delegation to Taiwan for a three-day visit that ended on Monday.

He met with President Tsai Ing-wen, who said that her government highly valued its ties with Japan.

Tsai thanked the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for its positive and cooperative attitude toward Taiwan and vowed that Taiwan would respond in kind.

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