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President Ma interviewed by Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun

President Ma Ying-jeou on May 12 was interviewed by Japan's Nihon
Keizai Shimbun, and portions of the interview were published on the front page and
on Page 6 (the international page) on May 13. The article on the front page carried
the title "President Ma Hopes for Early Resolution to Futenma Issue and Urges Signing
of FTA between Taiwan and Japan."

The front page article reported that President Ma expressed his
hope that the United States and Japan would be able to resolve the issue of the
US Futenma air base on Okinawa in a manner that will not have a negative impact
on security in East Asia. The president made the remarks when asked the friction
between the United States and Japan over relocation of the base. President Ma said
he hopes the issue will be resolved soon. The president also urged Japan and Taiwan
to begin discussing the signing of a free trade agreement.

The report stated that President Ma feels that the Treaty of
Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States is an important
pillar in the security of East Asia and that Taiwan attaches great importance to
it. He said that Taiwan maintains close security ties with the United States through
its procurement of US arms. "This also contributes to security in the region," he
said. The president stated that the Japan-US alliance and US-Taiwan security cooperation
give Taiwan greater confidence in the face of a continued military build-up by mainland
China to engage in negotiations and improve relations with its cross-strait counterpart.

With regard to the signing of a free trade agreement with Japan,
President Ma mentioned that "Japan is Taiwan's second largest trading partner and
we hope that the two sides will begin talks on a free trade agreement." The president
also said that his administration has set a goal of signing an Economic Cooperation
Framework Agreement (ECFA) with mainland China in June.

The article on the international page of the newspaper was titled
"Ma Pledges Caution in Political Negotiations with Mainland China; Shows Clear Emphasis
on Regional Balance." The report stated that during the interview, President Ma
reiterated the goal of signing an ECFA with mainland China in June. On the other
hand, he stressed that Taiwan must proceed with caution in discussing a peace treaty
or other political matters with mainland China in order to clearly demonstrate Taiwan's
emphasis on regional equilibrium in East Asia. President Ma stated that cross-strait
negotiations are to first focus on economic and cultural issues. With regard to
the concerns among a portion of Taiwan's populace that cross-strait relations are
developing too rapidly and might jeopardize sovereignty, President Ma said he is
keenly aware of this viewpoint.

The report noted that the two-year anniversary of President Ma's
inauguration will be on May 20. His diplomatic strategy has been to follow a pragmatic
line in dealing with mainland China, taking into consideration the current status
of cross-strait relations and acting in accordance with domestic public opinion,
the article said, adding that because of President Ma's efforts over the past two
years, the Taiwan Strait is no longer a flashpoint. His work has helped thaw once-frosty
relations between the two sides and reduce tension, the article said. Meanwhile,
President Ma believes that the most important task now is to iron out an ECFA with
mainland China, which will reduce or end tariffs on trade between the two sides.

The article noted that the opposition Democratic Progressive
Party has leveled criticism at the ECFA, saying that reducing or ending tariffs
will deal a blow to Taiwan's traditional industries. Some believe that the signing
of an ECFA will be postponed due to these concerns. President Ma responded, however,
by saying that the government will work to assist industries that are negatively
impacted by reductions in tariffs on imported mainland goods. He reiterated that
negotiations with mainland China will be concluded in June.

With regard to his presidential campaign pledge to adopt military
confidence-building measures and conclude a peace treaty with mainland China, the
report quoted President Ma as stating: "At present, negotiations on economic and
cultural issues are the priority. At this stage, there are no talks on other issues
and there is no concrete timetable for such talks to take place."

The report stated that under the cross-strait policy of no unification,
no independence, and no use of force, Taiwan will continue to embrace the core strategy
of maintaining the status quo. During the interview, the president also emphasized
the importance of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and
the United States, and cooperation between the United States and Taiwan in the sale
of US arms to Taiwan. He said that close cooperation with the United States in security
is beneficial to regional security. This indicates that President Ma is fully aware
of the increasing military strength of mainland China, and that he takes the matter
seriously, the article said.

【Source: Office of the President】