Japan’s representative office in Taipei raised the Japanese national flag outside its building on Saturday, according to a Japanese legislator who pointed out that the flag was previously absent to avoid offending China.
“Many visitors inside and outside of Taiwan should notice this change,” tweeted Keiji Furuya, a member of the House of Representatives in the Japanese Diet, adding that democratic countries should cooperate to counter China.
The Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association has offices in Taipei and Kaohsiung, and was established in 1972 after Japan switched diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China.
The association is a private organization set up by the Japanese government to conduct unofficial exchanges with Taiwan and handle consular services similar to an embassy.
The apparent change in flag protocol comes as Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden made a joint statement at the White House, emphasizing the “the importance of peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.”
“We committed to working together to take on the challenges from China and on issues like the East China Sea, the South China Sea, as well as North Korea, to ensure a future of a free and open Indo Pacific,” Biden said.
The Chinese embassy in the United States responded by expressing “strong concern and firm opposition” to the comments, saying that they have gone “far beyond the scope of normal development of bilateral relations.”
“Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang belong to China’s internal affairs,” the embassy’s statement read. “The East China Sea and the South China Sea concern China’s territorial integrity and maritime rights and interests. These matters bear on China’s fundamental interests and allow no interference.”
The Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association adopted its current name in 2017 after previously being called the Interchange Association. The name change drew an objection from China, which expressed strong dissatisfaction at what it called an attempt to upgrade substantive relations between Japan and Taiwan.
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