( AFP ) - Taiwan's opposition presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou flew to Japan Wednesday for a trip aimed at easing concerns there that he is anti-Japanese.
Ma, of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party, said he will use the trip -- the first since he announced his presidential bid in February -- to clarify the misunderstandings that some Japanese media have about him.
"I am neither anti-Japan nor pro-Japan. I hope to understand Japan and I hope the Japanese people will get to know me," Ma told a press conference on Tuesday.
Ma took part in a campaign in the early 1970s to defend the disputed Diaoyu island group, known as the Senkaku islands by Japan, and surrounding waters. China also claims the group.
Japan declared the islands its territory in 1895. They were temporarily put under US control after World War II before being returned to Japanese rule in 1972 together with Okinawa.
Ma is scheduled to deliver a speech entitled "A Vision for Peace and Prosperity in East Asia -- Taiwan's Perspectives" on Wednesday at Doshisha University in Kyoto.
The former Taipei mayor is also expected to meet with Hokohama mayor Nakata Hiroshi and give a brief talk in Japanese there, as well as visiting Japanese congressmen in Tokyo.