Former Japanese Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro, who led Japan for a year from 2000 to 2001, visited Taiwan this week and received a medal of honor in addition to meeting Chen Shui-bian. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson protested that “Japan should … not engage in political exchanges in any form with Taiwan independence forces.”
Mori, who was Koizumi Junichiro’s direct predecessor, visited Taiwan to similar disapproval from China in 2003.
Some may remember Mori from a rather charming faux pas, related in Wikipedia’s characteristic deadpan thus:
On meeting President Bill Clinton, he asked Clinton “Who are you?”, with the intention of saying “How are you?”. Since Clinton thought it was a joke, “I’m Hillary’s husband, and you?” Clinton answered to him in English. And then, Yoshiro Mori answered “Me, too”.
Perhaps a similar misstep with Chen would have softened Chinese opposition.