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Ultimatum issued to Tokyo museum

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan yesterday issued an ultimatum to Japan after it found some of the promotional materials issued by a Tokyo museum for an upcoming exhibition, which features artifacts on loan from Taiwan's National Palace Museum (NPM), referred to the Taipei museum without using the word "national."

In a rare, strongly worded statement, the Presidential Office yesterday threatened to cancel the exhibition, originally scheduled to open in Tokyo next week, if Japan does not always call the museum by its official title and if all promotional materials that fail to use the word "national" in describing the NPM exhibition are not corrected by 11 p.m. Saturday (Taipei time).

President Ma Ying-jeou has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and NPM to express grave concerns to Tokyo over some Japanese co-organizers' decision not to call the NPM by its official name.

The office said that although the main organizer, Tokyo National Museum (TNM), has been honoring the promise to use the museum's official name, other co-organizers failed to do so on their posters and other promotion materials by leaving out "national."

"National Palace Museum is the only official title of the museum. The government and its people cannot accept having cultural exchanges at the expense of national dignity," it said.

"If we do not receive any positive response, the National Palace Museum will cancel all activities, including the exhibits in Japan, and the first lady will not attend the opening ceremony," it added.

In response to the Presidential Office's call, MOFA yesterday afternoon issued a statement that said it has already lodged a serious protest over the matter with its Japanese counterparts.

Citing a deal signed between the NPM and the Tokyo National Museum last year, the MOFA statement said the Japanese museum is bound by the agreement to use the official title of the NPM in all publications and promotional materials it published for the exhibition.

Reiterating close and friendly bilateral ties, MOFA urged the Japanese government to handle the case properly and show respect to the Taiwan government's stance over the matter.

Meanwhile, a scheduled press event to make public the loaned artifacts in Tokyo yesterday afternoon was cancelled, according to an NPM representative, saying that the decision was made in accordance with government policy.

'Jadeite Cabbage' among Artifacts

The planned exhibition, unprecedented in Japan, was originally scheduled to hold its opening ceremony at the Tokyo National Museum on June 23, one day before the show opens to the public, according to the NPM.

First lady Chow Mei-ching was scheduled to visit Japan to attend the exhibition.

The NPM has selected 231 pieces of its collection for the exhibition in Tokyo, including the "Jadeite Cabbage," one of the NPM's most famous artifacts.

The Tokyo exhibition is scheduled to be held from June 24 through Sept. 15, after which it will move to the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, where it will run from Oct. 7 until Nov. 30.

June 21, 2014    rogechien@
Why do we ever send national treasures abroad? Does Japan send priceless pieces to us to display? Sooner or later, something bad will happen.
June 21, 2014    andrewhs@
An exhibition leaves out a word, the Presidential Office goes on the warpath. China claims Taiwan and Penghu? Silence.

No doubt the silence was one part agreement that Taiwan is part of China -- a stance which the Administration avoids reminding the public of and one part avoidance of reminding the public why Taiwan isn't a UN state.

When the coming generation comes of age, the UN issue is going to be revisited, with a vengeance....
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