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Japan’s former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo planning Taiwan visit

2022 trip could keep Foreign Minister Hayashi's pro-China leanings in check

Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is planning to visit Taiwan next year in a move likely to check new Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Foreign Minister-designate Hayashi Yoshimasa, reports said Wednesday (Nov. 10).

Kishida and especially Hayashi are generally described as leaning more toward China than toward Taiwan, Japan’s Daily Shincho reported. According to a CNA report, Abe and his brother, Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo, are leading figures on the pro-Taiwan side of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

It would not be Abe's first trip to Taiwan as an ex-premier, as he visited the country in 2010 after having left office in 2007. During that trip, he met with then-opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), CNA reported.

While Abe and Hayashi apparently support different China policies, they could eventually become rivals in domestic politics, as they hold seats in different Diet districts in the Yamaguchi region which might be merged.

In an interview published in July, Abe expressed a hope to visit the final resting place of late President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in Taiwan. Lee, a frequent visitor to Japan, passed away in July 2020.