Japanese Politician's Taiwan Connection Causes Storm as Party Vote Looms

Photo Credit: REUTERS/達志影像
Why you need to know

Attacked for her dual nationality, Democratic Party deputy head Renho is in a race to abandon her ROC citizenship.

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Democratic Party deputy head Murata Renho (村田蓮舫), a half-Japanese and half-Taiwanese politician who is locked in a three-way race to assume leadership of the DP in Sept. 15 elections, revealed on Tuesday that she has yet to renounce her Republic of China citizenship.

Under attack for her dual citizenship, the politician, who goes by Renho, admitted on Tuesday that she had not, as previously stated, relinquished her ROC citizenship at the age of 17. Japan’s National Personnel Authority disqualifies anyone holding citizenship of a foreign country from becoming a diplomat. Under Japan’s Nationality Law, a Japanese national who has foreign citizenship must choose one before turning 22.

Renho, who was born Hsieh Lien-fang (謝蓮舫), blamed her Taiwanese father, Hsieh Ge-hsin (謝哲信), now deceased, for the mix-up, saying he had taken care of the paperwork needed to get her Japanese citizenship in 1985. Hsieh and his family moved to Japan in 1959.

“I would like to apologize for the confusion caused by my inaccurate memories and the lack of coherency in my recent remarks,” the Japan Times quoted her saying. “But at the time, my identity as a politician has always been based on the idea that I am Japanese and I’ve worked for the sake of my own nation. And I will from now on, too.”

The controversy over her dual nationality could very well cost Renho a chance to become head of Japan’s largest opposition party. Last week she submitted documents to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Tokyo to renounce her ROC citizenship.

Reports in Taiwanese media on Tuesday said that Renho had gone one step further to distance herself from her father’s country of birth by stating on Sunday that “Taiwan is not a country” under Japan’s “one China” policy. 

The alleged remark infuriated people back in Taiwan, with Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) bemoaning Renho’s "cruel" slight in the face of “ruthless politics."

However, FTV reports today that Renho apparently did not make such remarks concerning Taiwan and attributes the whole affair to a "mistranslation."

The actual quote: 

「一つの中国論で言ったときに、二重国籍とメディアの方が使われるのは私自身びっくりしている」

It means, "If Japan already acknowledges the 'One China' policy, isn't it strange that the Japanese media can still use 'dual nationality' to question me?" You be the judge.

During a visit to Japan by Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) in early August, Renho told the Taiwanese delegation that she would probably visit Taiwan after the Sept. 15 DP leadership election.

Renho is a relative of former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山). Her grandfather, Hsieh Te-lin (謝達林), practiced medicine. She visited Tainan in 2013 to reconnect with her family roots.

(This article was updated on Sept. 14, 13:10pm : remarks on "Taiwan not a country" reportedly a mistranslation.)

 

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang

 

 

 

 

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