Japan’s PM refers to Taiwan as country, draws fire from China

Japan’s PM refers to Taiwan as country, draws fire from China

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (L, standing), who heads the Liberal Democratic Party, answers a question from Yukio Edano (R, bottom), head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, during a debate between the prime minister and opposition party leaders in the parliament in Tokyo on June 9, 2021. (Kyodo)

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga referred to Taiwan as a country, immediately drawing fire on Thursday from mainland China, which regards the island as a renegade province.

In his first one-on-one parliamentary debate with opposition leaders Wednesday, Suga, naming Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan, said, “Such three countries have been imposing strong restrictions on privacy rights” to curb the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Self-governed Taiwan is usually called a “region” in Japan, with the Communist-led Chinese government claiming the island is an “inalienable part” of its territory.

Suga’s reference came as Tokyo and Beijing have already been at odds over several issues, including a territorial dispute in the East China Sea and the crackdown on Hong Kong.

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