Having gone over the media references to Prime Minister Fukuda’s comments with regard to Taiwan, I find them less revealing than I had thought. However, I believe that they are still notable enough for a post of their own. Excerpts and their translations are given below.
I looked at the conservative Sankei’s take on the mistranslation of Prime Minister Fukuda’s carefully rendered comment on Taiwan independence. But how did the others treat it? The leftish Asahi just skipped the matter altogether and went straight to Prime Minister Wen’s reiteration of Prime Minister Fukuda’s “non-support” for the referendum. Usually slightly to Asahi’s right, Mainichi, in giving the story near-equal billing with the gas fields, also ignored Mr. Wen’s translation and noted Mr. Fukuda’s “non-support” for independence. The point of the story was that in Mainichi’s view, Mr. Fukuda had gone somewhat beyond the current Japanese position, if only in nuance. Mainichi also put a totally different spin in contrast to Sankei on the meaning of Mr. Fukuda’s cryptic comment to the effect that he “may have said more than what [he] was questioned by the reporters”. The nationalist but also very pro-China Yomiuri seems to have thought the matter unworthy of mention in its online summaries. (The mistranslation appears to have escaped its notice as well.)
The foreign media does not appear to have noticed their pulses quicken with regard to Japan-on-Taiwan, but the BBC predictably bit the Chinese line. Xinghua, the Chinese state newswire, appears to have gotten it right.
These are online versions of the news. In Japan at least, they are more often than not condensed from the hardcopy versions, and many hardcopy items are passed over altogether. That being said, the Japanese coverage of the incident does appear to reflect the policy preferences of the dailies with regard to China. Even Mr. Fukuda’s comments wound up being parsed in completely different directions, consonant, I add, with the inclinations of the respective journals.
If the mistranslation was intentional, it has served its purpose as far as BBC is concerned. The fact that Xinghua did not repeat the mistake does not sway the conclusion over Chinese intent one way or other; the Chinese authorities are not so stupid as to push their luck that far, after Mr. Fukuda had taken pains to reiterate the official position.
On other matters, the matter of Taiwan, which is scheduled to hold a referendum in March next year on the merits of joining the UN under the name of Taiwan, was taken up and, according to Prime Minister Wen, Prime Minister Fukuda demonstrated the position of not supporting the referendum. (このほか、来年３月に台湾名義での国連加盟の是非を問う住民投票を予定している台湾の問題も取り上げられ、温首相によると、福田首相は住民投票を支持しない立場を示したという。
from ”Quatum Leap in Mutual Relations” Next Year, Japan-China Summit, Gas Field Talks to Be Continued(来年は「関係飛躍」 日中首脳会談 ガス田は協議継続)”Asahi, 27 December 28.
”I may have said more than what I was questioned by the reporters”, Prime Minister Fukuda said at the joint press conference. It was after he had stated clearly that he did not support Taiwan independence and furthermore that he did “not want tension to increase between the two shores (of China and Taiwan) with regard to the referendum in Taiwan”. Prime Minister Wen, who was sitting beside him, nodded strongly and adopted a satisfied expression.
Concerning Prime Minister Fukuda’s words, Japanese diplomatic sources admitted, while stating that “the government’s fundamental position remained unchanged”, that they went a little deeper.
In a public forum, such being this [press] conference, Prime Minister Wen, while preceding his remarks with the words “I would like to supplement that on one point”, did not forget to introduce that fact that Prime Minister Fukuda also “expressed his position that he definitely did not support” the referendum during the Prime Ministers’ meeting.
China’s tactics are to tighten the “web” around Taiwanese supporters of independence by having the heads of major countries that have influence over Taiwan to express their opposition. Therefore, it is highly significant that it was able to draw out “non-support” from the Prime Minister of Japan, which independence supporters look to [for sustenance].
… 「記者さんから質問を受けた以上のことを申し上げたかもしれない」。福田首相は共同記者会見で述べた。台湾独立を支持しないと明言し、さらに「台湾の住民投票をめぐって、（中台）両岸に緊張が高まるようなことは望んでいない」と言い切った後のことだ。隣に座る温首相は深くうなずき、満足そうな表情 を浮かべた。
from “Japan-China Summit: China Flexible Stance on Gas Fields; Non-Support for Taiwan Independence, Japan Firmly ‘Cooperative’ (日中首脳会談：中国「ガス田」柔軟姿勢 台湾独立不支持、日本「協調」強く)”Mainichi, 2007 December 29.
Taiwan does not come up in the Yomiuri online articles. It escaped my notice in the hardcopy version as well. Sankei, as I mentioned here, devoted an entire article and a commentary to the controversy. They are too long to translate here, but the basic message is that you can’t trust the Chinese.
Mr Fukuda also reiterated Japan's opposition to Taiwanese independence and voiced his opposition to Taiwan's plans to hold a referendum on UN membership.
from “China and Japan PMs hail progress”BBC, 2007 December 28
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said on Friday that Japan does not support Taiwan authorities' attempts to seek UN membership by "referendum" and moves that may change the status quo of the cross-Strait relationship.
Fukuda said that Japan would give no support to the claims of "one China, one Taiwan", "Taiwan independence" or Taiwan authorities' attempts to join the United Nations and to seek UN membership through a "referendum".
from ”Japan PM states four 'no's on Taiwan issue”, Xinghua by way of China Daily, 2007 December 29.