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Taipei mayor reveals intent to run for president in 2024

Whether or not Ko Wen-je enters race hinges on his approval ratings

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (Facebook photo)

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (Facebook photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) expressed interest in throwing his hat into the ring for the 2024 presidential election as he shared his views on geopolitical uncertainties in an interview with Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun.

In the article, published Tuesday (Jan. 19), Ko said he would make his presidential bid three years from now because “Taiwan needs seismic political and judicial reforms.” An approval rating of 20 percent or higher will be needed for him to push ahead with the campaign.

Regarding cross-strait relations, the mayor admitted that Taiwan, sandwiched as it is between the U.S. and China, cannot counter Beijing alone. He said he would draw lessons from Japan, which also has to deal with conundrums stemming from competition between the two superpowers.

Speaking on Taiwan’s ban on imported Japanese food from areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Ko was equivocal, saying only that he supports lifting the restrictions if the products are scientifically proven to be safe and are properly labeled. The import ban is believed to be a hurdle in Taiwan’s effort to join the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The surgeon-turned-politician has said that if he were to become president, he would strive to ensure the country has a reliable government, fair judicial institutions, and public servants with integrity, wrote Storm Media. It was his belief that Taiwan's judicial system is unjust that catapulted him into the political arena.

Ko is the chairman of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), which he founded in 2019 as a way to accumulate political capital. The TPP secured five seats in the 2020 legislative election, but its clout is still dwarfed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has 61 seats, and the opposition KMT, which holds 38.

Ko’s second term as the capital’s mayor ends in 2022.