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June 30, 2017

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Tokyo museum relents in 'national' row

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- After 16 hours of negotiations between delegates from Taiwan and Japan, the Tokyo National Museum (TNM) decided to take down promotional posters that fail to recognize the "national" status of Taiwan's National Palace Museum (NPM).

The TNM is due to hold an exhibition that features the NPM's collections next week. The Presidential Office previously issued an ultimatum requesting name correction on posters be made by 11 p.m. Saturday (Taipei time), or else it would cancel the exhibition altogether.

According to the TNM, some of the posters were lined along Japan's railway system, and cannot be removed until the train service stops late in the evening. As such, there would be difficulty meeting the deadline proposed by Taiwan.

However, the NPM has maintained a tough stance. NPM spokesman Jin Shi (金士) said the false name adopted by Japan breached the Republic of China's (R.O.C.) sovereignty as well as the NPM's reputation. By press time, the NPM has not granted TNM's request for a deadline extension. Jin said that the two sides had been undergoing intense negotiations on the issue, but "everything should follow rules stipulated in the contract" originally inked between the two countries.

TNM Bears the Ultimate Responsibility

The TNM claimed it used the NPM's official title, but contracted media and other parties to produce some of the promotional posters, which inaccurately dubbed the National Palace Museum the "Taipei Palace Museum."

According to Chen Tyau-her (陳調和), deputy chief of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan, staff members will be dispatched to major train stations to verify if corrections have been made by midnight.

While the TNM contracted others to produce promotional materials, it is still TNM's responsibility to make sure the NPM's titles are correctly spelled out, Chen said.

First Lady's Trip to Japan to be Postpones

The Presidential Office was displeased about the change. First lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) has postponed her upcoming trip to Japan as a gesture of discontent.

Taiwan's top envoy to Japan, Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳), had been undergoing marathon negotiations with TNM's representatives until 3 a.m. yesterday. Shen was originally due to provide an update at a press conference scheduled at 11:30 a.m. Saturday (Japan time). However, he was bogged down at the negotiation table with Japan's delegates and failed to show up.

Deputy chief Chen presided over the conference instead. Asked by the press if First lady Chow's visit to Japan is canceled, Chen said that the embassy was still preparing for her visit.

President Ma Ying-jeou said earlier that in the past 20 years, artifacts from the NPM have gone on display in various countries, including the U.S., France, Germany and Austria, where the full name of the NPM was always used. As such, Japan's failure to adopt the NPM's full name in promotional materials is not acceptable, Ma said.

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