Taipei Staff: When Japan’s Foreign Minister, Toshimitsu Motegi announced yesterday that the Japanese government in Tokyo would supply COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan he referred to the donation of relief equipment and cash sent by Taiwan in the wake of the devastating March 11th, 2011 earthquake in northern Japan – a donation Japan has never forgotten.
Few however, expected Japan to act so quickly with news filtering out of the Japanese capital later the same evening that the first shipment would arrive within 24 hours.
The vaccines are desperately needed in Taiwan with the government of Democratic Progressive Party President Tsai Ing-wen being criticized for failing to secure enough vaccines for its population despite a year of relative normalcy.
And, at time of typing, it is understood Flight JL 809 from Narita to Taipei, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner has now taken off and is heading southwest to the Taiwanese capital.
As such, Flight 809 is now being seen by many on social media around Taiwan and much of East Asia as representing the year (19)89, and as it will arrive on June 4th, Japan is sending a vaccine lifeline to the democratic nation of Taiwan – claimed by China – on the 22nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing.
It is a numerical ‘coincidence‘ that will not be lost on the authorities of China’s Communist Party in Beijing.
Across China once again, and this year in Hong Kong, memorials to the events of 1989, have been banned with reports of thousands of extra police expected on the streets of Kowloon and around Hong Kong Island today.
Taiwan meanwhile, will see some memorials take place on a limited scale with the majority limited to online demonstrations of remembrance, but with the national government still urging caution and large scale gatherings banned, only a few are expected to make their way to the traditional gathering point of Memorial Hall Square in the heart of Taipei.
Taiwan has in recent weeks seen a huge upsurge in the number of domestic COVID transmissions after a year of relative isolation, and as of Thursday, June 3rd, the daily report by the Central Epidemic Command Cente shows that almost 10,000 have now been infected from a population of 23.5 million, with 166 confirmed deaths to date.
Image: Daniel Schludi – Unsplash