Taipei, April 5 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou will meet privately with former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, who arrived Monday in Taiwan on a four-day private visit, political sources said.
Aso, accompanied by his wife, daughter and personal aides, is making his first trip to Taiwan since he stepped down as premier last September after his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost a parliamentary election a month earlier to the Democratic Party of Japan.
Although the LDP is no longer in power, sources said Aso still holds enormous sway in the Japanese political arena. His visit to Taiwan has drawn considerable attention because many believe he can help bridge Taipei-Tokyo relations.
Given his sensitive status as a retired prime minister and the absence of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Japan, Aso kept a low profile after arriving Monday.
He did not respond to press inquiries about his itinerary in Taiwan and did not make any public comments. He was seen chatting animatedly with John Feng, Taiwan's representative to Japan, who returned to Taipei earlier in the day to welcome Aso at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
Neither the Presidential Office nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would confirm that Ma will meet Aso during the latter's visit.
Sources have said, however, that Aso will not only meet with Ma but also with other Taiwanese political heavyweights, including Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng.
Wang, who has maintained close ties with the Japanese political community, will invite Aso to dinner Wednesday, and ruling Kuomintang legislators with Japanese educational backgrounds will also be present.
Aso is visiting Taiwan at the invitation of Chinatrust Group Chairman Jeffrey Koo.
Aso, who served as Japan's prime minister from September 2008 through September 2009, last visited Taiwan in April 2003 in his capacity as head of the then-ruling LDP's policy coordination council.
During that visit, he attended a seminar with politicians from Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, which held power at the time.
Only two other retired Japanese prime ministers have visited Taiwan. Takeo Fukuda visited Taiwan in March 1992 and Yoshiro Mori visited Taiwan in December 2003 and again in November 2006.
(By Lee Shu-hua and Sofia Wu)