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Okinawa welcomes new Taiwanese representative

Date Posted: 1999-10-19

Okinawa's top community and business leaders gathered on the evening of October 6 to raise money for the victims of Taiwan's recent earthquake. The fundraising took place during the a welcome ceremony for Taiwan's new representative at the Sino-Ryukyuan Cultural and Economic Association, Mr. Charles Chen. Southeast Botanical Gardens’ president Vicky Obayashi hosted the event in her gardens, with the collaboration of Executive Link's Yuki Miyazato.

Various gifts donated by local companies and individuals were put up for sale to the highest bidder during a special charity auction. Everything, from art to a one night's stay at the Renaissance Resort's most expensive suite - a value of ¥150,000 - was auctioned off. By night's end, a combination of funds received from both private contributions and the charity auction totaled over ¥1,000,000. This money will go to the Taiwanese people as relief aid for the September 21 earthquake, which killed thousands of people in Taipei.

Many attendants of the occasion made comments in favor of Vicky Obayashi, saying that the night’s success was a result of her generosity. Obayashi provided an outdoor dinner party, free of charge, for all. She said that it was the first time to hold such a welcome and farewell party for Taiwanese representatives of the Sino-Ryukyuan Cultural Association, and that the charity auction was an idea by both Miyazato and herself.

"We are here to welcome the new Taiwan representative Charles Chen and to say good-bye to the former representative Peter Tsai," said Obayashi. "We also wanted to have more meaning for this get-together, which is why we decided to try and raise money for the earthquake victims."

The Bank of Okinawa’s President Choshin Nakayoshi, also present at the event, stated: "We want to help the victims of the earthquake, so we are here to support tonight's event and to make a contribution."

Both Peter Tsai and Charles Chen expressed their gratitude to everyone during a short speech. Tsai will personally carry the donations back with him to Taiwan. "Today marks an important event for friendship," he said.

Although there are no official diplomatic ties between Japan and Taiwan, both countries enjoy high level cultural and economic ties. The Sino-Ryukyuan Cultural and Economic Association in Naha supplies cultural and tourism-related information about Taiwan, and helps to support events that foster a strong friendship between that island and Okinawa.

Chen was the former head of the Department of Asia and Pacific Affairs for Taiwan. He will take over his post in Okinawa with an equipment of twelve years’ experience in Japan. He told Japan Update that he hopes to continue to improve cooperation between the two islands.

"I think there are three areas in which we can cooperate to benefit each other," said Chen. "The first is constructing a home for the elderly here in Okinawa for Taiwanese. The second is to work together to take care of the environment to protect the fishing industry of our two islands, and the third is to take advantage of the new economic zone being planned at Ameku for trade between Okinawa and Taiwan." Chen also mentioned that he hopes visa regulations will be changed to help bring more Taiwanese tourists to Okinawa.

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