News Column

Taiwan threatens to cancel national museum exhibitions in Japan

June 19, 2014

Ko Shu-ling

Taiwan's Presidential Office said Friday that exhibitions of ancient Chinese artifacts from Taiwan'sNational Palace Museum scheduled to open in Tokyo next week will be cancelled if Japan does not always call the museum by its official title and if all posters that fail to use the word "national" in describing the exhibits are not removed by midnight Saturday.

In a statement, the Presidential Office said President Ma Ying-jeou has asked the Foreign Ministry and National Palace Museum to lodge "solemn representation" to Tokyo over some Japanese co-organizers' decision not to call the National Palace Museum by its official name.

"If we do not receive any positive response, the National Palace Museum will cancel all activities, including the exhibits, in Japan and the first lady will not attend the opening ceremony (set for Monday)," it said.

The Presidential Office said although the main organizer, Tokyo National Museum, has been honoring the promise to use the museum's official name, other co-organizers failed to do so on their posters by leaving out "national."

"We find it unacceptable," it said. "National Palace Museum is the only official title of the museum. The government and its people cannot accept having cultural exchanges at the expense of national dignity."

Conditions for the loans are that Japan calls the museum by its official title on all occasions. It must also send an official invitation to request the loans and pass a law addressing Taiwan's concerns about the return of the loaned objects.

The Tokyo exhibition is scheduled to be open to the public from Tuesday, but the museum said that if the offending posters are not all removed before midnight Saturday there will be no exhibitions.

More than 200 of the museum's rare cultural relics have been selected for the exhibitions that will be held at the Tokyo National Museum for 12 weeks from June to September and for eight weeks at the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, from October to November.

The National Palace Museum in Taipei houses a large collection of the finest Chinese antiquities collected by various Chinese emperors over a millennium.

Ma's Nationalist Party took more than 650,000 art objects to Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war to the Communists in 1949.

Since then, Taiwan and China have been governed separately, but China views Taiwan as part of its territory and claims the treasures housed in the National Palace Museum.

Because of the rapid thawing of cross-strait tension since 2008, Taiwan'sNational Palace Museum has showcased Chinese relics on loan from Chinese museums.

However, the loans have so far been one-way, with Taiwan still balking at loaning treasures to China, citing a lack of international standards for the care and safe return of the loaned objects.

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Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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