News Column

Taiwan museum's exhibitions in Japan might be cancelled

June 20, 2014

Ko Shu-ling

Taiwan warned Friday that an exhibition of ancient Chinese artifacts from Taiwan'sNational Palace Museum scheduled to open in Tokyo next week will be cancelled if posters and other promotional materials prepared by the Japanese side continue to omit the word "national" in referring to the museum.

In a statement, the Presidential Office said President Ma Ying-jeou has asked the Foreign Ministry and National Palace Museum to lodge a "solemn representation" to Japan 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 that although the main organizer, the Tokyo National Museum, has been honoring the promise to use the museum's official name, its 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 also had to 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 for that to happen, the museum demands the removal of at least some of the offending posters before midnight Saturday. If they are not all removed before midnight June 28, or four days after the exhibition begins, it will be cut short.

A box opening ceremony scheduled for Friday afternoon was also postponed until Taiwan is satisfied with the way Japan handles the matter, the museum said.

More than 200 of the museum's rare cultural relics have been selected for the exhibitions that would 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, which calls itself the Republic of China, 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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