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Foreign Ministry defends its actions in exhibit naming row

TAIPEI -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that it has been working hard alongside Taiwan's representative office in Japan to deal with the controversy over the naming used to refer to the National Palace Museum (NPM) exhibition set to open Tuesday in Tokyo.

“We have made every effort to assist the NPM in asking the Tokyo museum to correct its name,” said ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao in response to reports that Taiwan's representative office did not play a part in negotiations to handle the situation.

She said her ministry and the representative office also used diplomatic channels to lodge a protest over the naming row.

On Friday, the Foreign Ministry warned Tokyo National Museum, which is putting on the exhibition in Tokyo, that Taiwan will cancel the event unless advertisements and tickets that refer to the NPM as simply the “Palace Museum” are replaced with versions featuring its full name.

On Monday morning, the NPM announced that the exhibition in Tokyo will open Tuesday as scheduled after the Tokyo National Museum met demands to remove or replace all posters and advertising materials that were missing the word “national.”

NPM Director Fung Ming-chu said she will attend an opening reception in Tokyo later in the day.

Amid the naming row, first lady Chow Mei-ching canceled her previous plans to attend the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

Selected items from the NPM are set to be put on display under the title “Treasured Masterpieces from the National Palace Museum, Taipei” at the Tokyo National Museum from June 24 to Sept. 15, and at the Kyushu National Museum from Oct. 7 to Nov. 30.

Controversy erupted because the removal of the word “national” constitutes an apparent violation of the agreement between Taiwan and Japan that the museum's full name must be used in all publicity materials.

The posters in question, which had been spotted at train stations and parks in Tokyo, were prepared by a media sponsor group comprising major media outlets including NHK, the Asahi Shimbun and other TV stations and newspapers.

But the posters also carried the images of NPM items, which meant that the Tokyo museum must have granted its approval for the media sponsor group to use, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The official posters and brochures prepared by the Tokyo National Museum itself refer to the Taipei museum by its proper name of “National Palace Museum.”

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