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Outgoing Japanese representative lauds deep friendship with Taiwan

TAIPEI -- The outgoing Japanese representative to Taiwan said Tuesday that he cherishes the relationship developed with Taiwan over his two-plus years in Taipei, expressing hopes that bilateral ties will continue to grow.

Sumio Tarui, who has been posted in Taiwan since April 2012, said he will continue to work to “make Japan remain a good friend of Taiwan” based on their strong ties in culture, trade and other areas.

Speaking at a farewell reception in Taipei, Tarui recalled his impression of Taiwan shortly after he took up the post as the head of the Taipei Office of Japan's Interchange Association, which represents Japan's interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

Back then, he was moved by a schoolboy who yielded his seat to the representative on the Taipei metro system because, he said, giving up a seat to one's elders has become a rare practice in Tokyo.

Even today he has not forgotten the warmth he felt then, he said. It is experiences like that which make him feel “fortunate” working in Taiwan, he added.

Tarui also took the opportunity to express gratitude once again for the post-disaster assistance offered by Taiwan following Japan's disastrous earthquake in March 2011.

He said he was touched by Taiwan's generous donations and support in the wake of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami inthe Tohoku region.

“I will always have warm feelings for Taiwan,” he told the hundreds of attendees at the event, including several Taiwanese government officials and foreign officials based in Taiwan.

After stepping down, he will continue to serve the Interchange Association as a consultant, he said, vowing that he will continue to make efforts to advance bilateral ties.

Ting Joseph Shih, Taiwan's deputy foreign minister, then led guests in a toast to Tarui, who he lauded for promoting ties with Taiwan.

Over the past two years, Taiwan and Japan have signed agreements in investment, e-commerce, banking supervision, aviation and fisheries, among others, to the benefit of the people of both countries, Shih said.

The two countries have advanced ties in cultural exchanges, he said, citing the example of an unprecedented exhibition of imperial Chinese treasures from Taiwan's National Palace Museum (NPM) that drew many visitors to the Tokyo National Museum — 150,000 as of Monday, he noted.

Shih also expressed hope that Tarui will continue to help promote ties between Taiwan and Japan.

Mikio Numata will succeed Tarui as Japan's representative to Taiwan. According to the Interchange Association, Numata is set to arrive in Taiwan in late July, but Tarui will depart Taiwan later this week.

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Japan's de facto ambassador to Taiwan Sumio Tarui (樽井澄夫), right, and Deputy Foreign Minister Joseph Shih (石定), second left, raise their glasses during a banquet at the Ambassador Hotel in Taipei, yesterday. A farewell party was held at the hotel for Tarui, whose post will be taken over by Mikio Numata (沼田幹男), a former Japanese ambassador to Myanmar. (CNA)

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