Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an, increasingly tipped as a future Taiwanese presidential candidate, and former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso agreed Wednesday in Tokyo on further promoting exchanges between Taiwan and Japan, a source close to the matter said.

Chiang, a rising star of Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, met with Aso on the first day of his four-day visit to Japan to attend an event and apparently to build connections with the country's political circles.

The 45-year-old, who became Taipei's youngest-ever mayor in 2022, is a great-grandson of former Taiwanese leader Chiang Kai-shek. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike invited him to visit the capital when she held talks with him in Taipei in February.

Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an (L) and former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso speak at Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo on May 15, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Taipei City)(Kyodo)

Chiang asked Aso, currently vice president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, for support for facilitating cooperation between Taipei and Japanese cities including Fukuoka, a southwestern Japan city near Aso's hometown, according to Taipei's city government.

The two, both known as big fans of manga, also talked about the popular Japanese manga series "One Piece," the city government added.

Chiang told reporters after the meeting that Aso brought up his visit to the United States last month for talks with former U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of the presidential election in November.

Before departing Taipei, Chiang told reporters that he would meet with "old friends" in Japan. He met with Aso in Taipei last August during the Japanese lawmaker's trip to the self-ruled island.

Also on Wednesday, the mayor met with members of LDP's Youth Division.

Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an meets the media at Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party's head office in Tokyo on May 15, 2024, following his meeting with the party's vice president Taro Aso. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

On Thursday, Chiang is scheduled to deliver a speech at a city leaders' summit hosted by the Tokyo metropolitan government to share Taipei's experience in earthquake resilience and dealing with extreme climate events, and meet with Koike.

He will hold talks with a cross-party group of Japanese lawmakers dedicated to strengthening Japan-Taiwan ties on Friday.

Days before his visit, Chiang told a group of Japanese reporters that Taiwan and Japan have very deep historical and cultural ties and that he expects his trip will deepen exchanges between the two sides.

Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after being defeated by the Communists in a civil war. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have since been governed separately.

Beijing has reacted sharply to any official interaction between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic relations with China.

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