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Japan election

Japan PM hopeful Takaichi speaks with Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen

Abe protegee seeks to burnish conservative credentials ahead of LDP election

Sanae Takaichi, former Japanese internal affairs minister, discussed greater exchanges between Tokyo and Taipei in an online meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. (Photo from Twitter post by Takaichi)

TOKYO -- Former Japanese Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi, one of four candidates running to lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, met online with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday.

"Web meeting with Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party Chair Tsai Ing-wen," Takaichi tweeted , addressing the leader in her capacity as the ruling party head, and not as the Taiwan president. 

"We had a forward-looking conversation toward expanding and deepening practical exchanges between Japan and Taiwan, including on security," Takaichi said, calling for closer ties between the two sides, which do not have official diplomatic relations.

Takaichi displayed the flags of Japan and Taiwan side by side behind her as she spoke.

A hard-line conservative and protegee of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Takaichi has stressed the need for Japan to bolster its economic security in the face of an increasingly assertive Beijing. Her call with Tsai is seen as an attempt to woo more hawkish members of the party for the Sept. 29 vote, which will decide the successor to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Tsai tweeted in Japanese on Monday that she had a "short but extremely meaningful exchange of ideas" with Takaichi.

"I hope for even deeper exchanges between Taiwan and Japan," she said.

The 30-minute conversation also covered topics such as the regional economy and supply chains, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.

Tsai also thanked Takaichi for Japan's donation of COVID-19 vaccines to help ease Taiwan's shortage of the jabs, according to a statement by the DPP.

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