Taiwan: Delegation to Visit Japan Over WHO Bid
A Taiwanese delegation will soon visit Japan to seek support for Taiwan's bid for inclusion in the World Health Organisation despite China's opposition, a spokesman for Taiwan's representative office in Japan said on Thursday.
The visit could further strain Japan-China ties, which are
at their worst in decades due mainly to a row over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi's visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, which honours some war criminals
along with Japan's war dead.
China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province and opposes its participation in most international organisations, has blocked the self-ruled island's bid for WHO observer status for years.
To seek Japan's support ahead of this year's WHO annual assembly meeting in May, a six-member Taiwanese delegation -- including the head of a doctors' group and a lawmaker -- will visit Japan next week, said Wen Ching Chu, a spokesman for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan.
"The group will come to seek (Japan's) support," he said.
The delegation plans to meet with members of Japanese doctors' groups during their stay, but there were no plans for meetings with any Japanese government officials since Japan and Taiwan do not have diplomatic relations, he said.
A spokeswoman at the representative office said the visit would last from April 4-6.
At WHO's annual assembly meeting in May 2004, Japan along with countries such as the United States effectively voted in favour of taking up Taiwan's request as a topic for discussion. But Taiwan's bid ultimately failed.
"We have said that Japan thinks it is desirable for Taiwan to participate in some form as an observer in a way that satisfies related parties," a Japanese government official said on condition of anonymity.
Taiwan first sought observer status at the WHO in 1997, but its request has been rejected for nine straight years.
In most years, the general committee of the WHO's governing assembly has recommended against considering Taiwan's request, and the recommendation has been accepted without a vote.