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Taiwan's Lee wants to give lecture in Japan -media

Written by: Staff

TOKYO, Feb 22 (Reuters) Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui wants to give a lecture at a Japanese university during a planned visit in May, Japanese media reported today, a move that would likely outrage China, which views the island as a renegade province.

A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman, however, said nothing had been decided about such a trip.

Beijing's ties with Tokyo are already deeply strained by a series of feuds, including one over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to the Yasukuni shrine, where convicted war criminals are honoured along with the nation's war dead.

Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Akira Chiba said Lee had not formally applied for a visa to visit Japan.

''We have to see what he wants to do, if he wants to come at all,'' Chiba said.

The metropolitan daily Tokyo Shimbun said Lee, 83, planned to give a speech on cultural matters at a university in Akita, northern Japan, but would not pay a visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, where his brother is among the war dead honoured.

Japan colonised Taiwan from 1895 to 1945, and war dead from the island as well as from Korea -- a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945 -- who fought in the Japanese Imperial Army are honoured at Yasukuni.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said last month that Japan would deal with any request from Lee to visit Japan ''appropriately in line with our basic policy toward Taiwan.'' Japan recognises the government in Beijing as China's sole legal government but has working, non-governmental ties with Taiwan.

A visit by Lee to Japan from late December 2004 to early January 2005 sparked furious protests from Beijing, which accused Japan of supporting independence for Taiwan.

Lee stepped down as Taiwan's president in 2000 and now heads a small pro-independence party.


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