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New Japan law opens way for exhibits

TAIPEI--A law passed in Japan yesterday that renders foreign-loaned cultural objects immune from seizure will allow Taiwan's cultural treasures to be exhibited in that country in the future, Chou Kung-shin, director of Taiwan's National Palace Museum, said yesterday.

The law ensures that cultural objects Japan borrows from overseas cannot be seized in the country under the judicial process but must be returned to the loaning country after being exhibited.

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 seldom sends its treasures overseas for fear that they might be seized by the Chinese authorities, who believe the treasures belong to China.

In fact, the museum has only made four large overseas loans since its 1965 establishment — 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 judicial seizure of the treasures.

Chou said she was “very glad” about the passage of the law and that the museum will be happy to loan its treasures for display in Japan.

A large number of Japanese tourists visits the museum each year, many of whom are particularly interested in its collection of calligraphy and paintings, said the director, adding that the museum expects Japan to be keen on borrowing calligraphy, paintings, porcelain and jade.

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