NPM hopes historic exhibits in Japan will show Taiwan's 'soft power'
Central News Agency
2014-05-26 11:25 PM
Taipei, May 26 (CNA) The director of Taiwan's National Palace Museum (NPM) said Monday she hopes upcoming historic exhibits of NPM cultural treasures in Japan will showcase Taiwan's 'soft power." Fung Ming-chu's remark came as over 200 sets of precious works from the NPM are set to be exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum from June and later this year at the Kyushu National Museum.

It marks the first time NPM treasures will be displayed in an Asian country outside of Taiwan. "For the National Palace Museum, (it is an opportunity) to show our nation's soft power through our collection," Fung said in an interview with CNA and Japan's Kyodo News. "We eagerly hope that it will increase cultural exchanges between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Japan" and boost bilateral tourism, said Fung.

She described the exhibitions as the result of years of "very lengthy discussions" and negotiations between the two sides. The NPM agreed to lend its artifacts to Japan after the latter passed a law in 2011 that renders foreign-loaned cultural objects immune from seizure, allowing Taiwan's treasures to be exhibited in Japan without fear of losing them to China, which considers the artifacts to be Chinese property. Fung revealed that initially, her museum had "flatly rejected" Japan's request to lend its most popular artifact, the Jadeite Cabbage with Insects, and another famous piece, the Meat-shaped Stone, but museum officials were finally "moved" by Japan's sincerity. In exchange for the NPM's most popular items, Fung noted that the two Japanese museums have agreed to jointly display 150 of their cultural artifacts, including 68 National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, in Taiwan in a reciprocal exhibition in 2016. The Jadeite Cabbage with Insects will be on display for two weeks at the Tokyo museum, while the Meat-shaped Stone will make an appearance for two weeks at the Kyushu museum. It will be the first time the two artifacts will be exhibited abroad. In addition to the two popular items, the exhibitions will feature rare ancient books, calligraphies, paintings, and embroideries as well as ceramic, bronze and jade objects. Fung expressed confidence the exhibitions will "touch the hearts" of Japanese visitors, as Japan and Taiwan share very similar cultural roots. Strong Chinese influence can be seen throughout Japanese calligraphy, embroidery, lacquerware and porcelain art, Fung explained. "There are so many connections between Chinese and Japanese culture," she said. A team of Japanese experts will arrive in Taiwan in early June for a final check before the artifacts are packed, individually boxed, and flown to Japan. The insurance value of the artifacts remains confidential, but the Japanese government had guaranteed their safety. The NPM and the two Japanese museums signed a historic agreement in Taipei in October last year to lend their collections on a reciprocal basis for exhibitions in each other's country. Under the agreement, 231 sets of works from the NPM will be exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum from June 24 to Sept. 15 and at the Kyushu National Museum from Oct. 7 to Nov. 30. Despite boasting one of the world's largest collections of Chinese artifacts and artworks -- reputed to number more than 680,000 items -- the National Palace Museum has only made four large overseas loans since its establishment in 1965. They were to the United States in 1996, France in 1998, Germany in 2003 and Austria in 2008 -- but only after those countries passed similar laws to prevent seizure of the treasures by Beijing. (By Christie Chen)

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