TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japanese legislators from a Taiwan caucus in Japan’s National Diet passed a resolution on Wednesday (May 15) in support of Taiwan’s participation in the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA).
It is regretful that Taiwan has not yet received an invitation to the WHA from the World Health Organization (WHO) due to pressure from Beijing, said Keiji Furuya, chief executive of the Diet Members’ consultative council on Japan-Taiwan relations.
After the caucus held an impromptu meeting and passed the resolution on Wednesday, Furuya visited Taiwan’s representative office in Tokyo with some members of the caucus, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s young brother, Nobuo Kishi, reported Central News Agency.
Handing a copy of the resolution to Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Taiwan’s ambassador in Japan, Furuya said the caucus will continue to push the Japanese government to do more on the issue, such as working with like-minded countries to put pressure on the WHO.
As Taiwan has been excluded from participating in the annual health assembly for three consecutive years, Furuya expressed concern that the WHO has violated its constitution, which envisions the WHO as an impartial organization, providing services to people of the world regardless of religion or political differences.
As a democratic country like Japan, Taiwan has power transitions after elections. The WHO should not discriminate against a particular government, added Furuya.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in 2016, Beijing has continued to ramp up pressure on international organizations to block Taiwan’s participation, as part of its campaign to isolate the island country and restrict its international space.
The 2019 WHA will open on May 20 in Geneva, Switzerland and last through May 28. Despite not having an invitation to the WHA, Taiwan’s Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) is still expected to lead a delegation comprising officials and civil groups to Geneva next week.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will hold a joint press conference with the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Friday (May 17) to talk about the government’s plans to promote Taiwan’s contributions to world health issues and raise awareness of the fact that the country has continued to be left out from the WHO.
Hsieh said the support from Furuya and the caucus shows the true friendship between Taiwan and Japan. He noted that non-political issues such as health should not be interfered with, or influenced because of political disagreements.
The number of mutual visits made by Taiwanese and Japanese travelers reach six million a year. If disease prevention work in Taiwan is sub-standard due to the country’s exclusion from taking part in WHO-related programs, it may also pose threats to Japan and even the entire world, said Hsieh.