Houston Community News >> Taiwan President Lee Unhurt After Man's Bottle Attack

6/9/2007 TOKYO - A CHINESE man threw two plastic bottles at former Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui as he was about to leave Japan on Saturday but both missed and Mr Lee was unhurt, airport police said. Both bottles were filled with soft drinks, a police official said. The man, who identified himself as a 34-year-old Chinese national living in Japan, was arrested for assault.

'The man said he did it because he dislikes Lee,' the police official said.

The 84-year-old Mr Lee, despised by Beijing for asserting self-ruled Taiwan's sovereignty, was concluding a trip to Japan that had threatened to chill an emerging thaw in Tokyo's relations with Beijing.

Defense for war shrine visit
Mr Lee had strongly defended his visit to a Tokyo war shrine that had angered Beijing and clouded Sino-Japanese ties, and repeated his view that the self-ruled island was independent.

Wrapping up his trip to Japan, Mr Lee on Saturday dismissed China's criticism of his pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine, seen by many in Asia as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

'The Yasukuni problem has arisen because China and Korea have their own problems that they can't solve,' Mr Lee, speaking in Japanese, told a news conference.

'There is no reason for foreign governments to make criticisms regarding Yasukuni.'

He reiterated his view on the sovereignty of Taiwan.

'I think Taiwan is already an independent, free, peaceful and democratic country,' he said, adding that the people of Taiwan should pay no heed to what Beijing says.

'China may talk about Taiwan, but I don't care, and I would encourage the people of Taiwan not to care either,' he said.

Hot-button issue
Visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni by Japanese leaders have long been a flashpoint in Japan's ties with China.

The shrine honors millions of Japanese war dead - among them soldiers from Taiwan and Korea who fought for Japan, their colonial ruler at the time - but also some convicted war criminals, including wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo.

Mr Lee insisted his visit to the shrine was personal and intended to pay respects to his elder brother, who died fighting for Japan in World War Two, when Taiwan was a Japanese colony.

'We have no bones, no ashes, no funeral tablet to remind us of my brother,' he said.

(Contributed by Reuters)