President Ma Ying-jeou on Friday told a Japanese envoy that the Asian country should review the imbalance of tourist flow between the two nations.
[In a previous meeting with former Deputy Minister Okada Katsuya, the] president was quoted to have said that Taiwanese tourists visiting Japan greatly exceed that of Japan to Taiwan, and that Japan should take measures to rebalance the difference.
Perhaps it's not surprising that Ma's response to this "problem" is both lazy and incompetent. Because the most obvious solution is for his government to pony up the funds for a tourist promotional campaign in Japan.
But of course, that would take effort.
His government could also get off its duff and do a marketing study about how to make the country more attractive to Japanese tourists, and then go about following the study's recommendations.
More work, again.
(President Ma Ying-jeou makes the teenage "crucifix"-gesture to ward off the evil expectation that he do the job he was elected to do. Whined Ma: "Oh, maaaaan, Foreigner, all your proposals sound TOO HARD. Why can't I just let somebody ELSE do it, instead?" — Image from the Want China Times.)
Another option would be for his government to stop going down-market with its ardent pursuit of low-income Chinese tourists. It's entirely possible that concentrating on this niche discourages higher-income Japanese from visiting...
A different angle would be for Ma to tackle some of the anti-Japanese bigotry that the KMT fostered during its decades-long misrule of the country. I once witnessed (with my own eyes) a Taiwanese woman in her 30s walk up to a Japanese man in a bar and, unprovoked, tell him straight to his face in English, "I don't like Japanese."
(Fortunately, it was a foreigner pub, and there weren't any Taiwanese men around. The situation might have escalated quickly had any drunken, Japan-hating, Chinese nationalists been present.)
By my reckoning, that Japanese man probably told his family and a few of his co-workers about his unfortunate experience with Taiwanese hospitality. Undoubtedly, a few other Japanese later heard about it second-hand. Does Mr. Ma think that's the kind of word-of-mouth which encourages Japanese visits to Taiwan?
Finally, if Ma Ying-jeou wants more Japanese tourists (or tourists from any country, really), he could see to it that the country's legal system charges and prosecutes Taiwanese who assault tourists. His pathetic failure to do so is certain to leave a few foreign tourists crossing Taiwan off their itineraries.
Update: After sleeping upon it, I realized this post gave the false impression that Taiwanese in general behave badly towards Japanese tourists. So to clarify: most Taiwanese are cool. Really cool.
However, Taiwan has a very small, ugly minority (who usually prefer to be called "Chinese") which rabidly hates Japan and all things Japanese.
Having made that qualification, an encounter with even one of the latter is enough to ruin a vacation...
UPDATE (Aug 31, 2014): With more temperate language, the Taipei Times makes much the same point.