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Taiwan first lady to make rare Japan visit for exhibition

Taiwan's first lady will visit Japan next week to attend an exhibition of prized historical artefacts and artworks which the island has loaned for the first time to its former wartime enemy.

TAIPEI: Taiwan's first lady will visit Japan next week to attend an exhibition of prized historical artefacts and artworks which the island has loaned for the first time to its former wartime enemy.

Chow Mei-ching is scheduled to attend a reception on June 23 and the exhibition's opening at the Tokyo National Museum the next day, said Feng Ming-chu, director of Taipei's National Palace Museum, on Wednesday.

She will be the first Taiwanese first lady to visit Japan since the country switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1972.

The National Palace Museum announced last year it would lend 231 pieces and sets -- ranging from paintings and calligraphy to bronze, china, jade and embroidery -- to the Tokyo National Museum and Kyushu National Museum from June to November 2014.

The loan includes the museum's most-prized items -- the Jadeite Cabbage and the Meat-Shaped Stone dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) -- which have never been displayed abroad and will be on loan for two weeks only.

It will be the first loan by the National Palace Museum to an Asian country, following exhibitions in the United States, France, Germany and Austria.

All the pieces have already arrived in Japan, Feng added.

The Taipei museum boasts more than 600,000 artefacts spanning 7,000 years of Chinese history from the prehistoric Neolithic period to the end of the Qing Dynasty.

Many were removed from the Beijing museum in the 1930s by China's Nationalist government to prevent them falling into the hands of invading Japanese troops.

The museum's contents -- one of the world's finest collections of Chinese treasures -- were brought to the island by Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, when he fled to Taiwan after losing the civil war on the Chinese mainland to the communists in 1949.

For years the National Palace museum was unwilling to lend the artefacts to Japan for fears that China would try to reclaim them, until the Japanese government passed a law in 2011 to prevent such seizures.

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