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Taiwan art exhibit in Japan salvaged by name fix

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Photo - "Imperial stone seals with animal design knobs" of Qing dynasty is displayed at the Tokyo National Museum during a press preview of the "Treasured Masterpieces from the National Palace Museum Taipei " in Tokyo, Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
"Imperial stone seals with animal design knobs" of Qing dynasty is displayed at the Tokyo National Museum during a press preview of the "Treasured Masterpieces from the National Palace Museum Taipei " in Tokyo, Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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TOKYO (AP) — An exhibition of Chinese art from Taiwan has opened as planned after the Tokyo National Museum revised promotional materials that had omitted the word "National" from references to Taipei's National Palace Museum.

Taiwan is sensitive to how other governments portray it, and last week its first lady, Christine Chou, canceled a trip to Tokyo for the exhibition.

But on Monday, the Taiwanese museum's director accepted an apology from the Tokyo museum's curator at an opening ceremony for the exhibition, whose centerpiece is a lustrous white and green cabbage carved of jadeite.

"I believe this will suffice to restore the positive sentiment toward Japan among the Taiwan people," said the Taiwan museum's director, Feng Ming-chu. She said the past two or three days had been "regrettable," but added that once the problem with the name was fixed the exhibition could proceed.

"The most important thing is trust, sincerity and mutual respect," she said.

The National Palace Museum houses many treasures taken to Taiwan when the Nationalists fled there from mainland China during a civil war in 1949. China still claims Taiwan as its own territory.

Japan formally recognizes mainland China but also has close ties with Taiwan, which has full diplomatic relations with only 23 countries, most of them in Latin America, Africa, and the south Pacific.

"The upcoming exhibition in Japan of some of Taiwan's most treasured collections of antiques would have been a perfect example of cultural exchange if not for a row over the name of the Taipei-based museum that owns the items," the Taiwan newspaper The China Post said in an editorial.

It noted that the word "national" in the Taipei museum's name indicates it is a government-run museum.

"We are disappointed at the Tokyo museum," it said.

Staff at the Tokyo museum would not give a reason for the original incorrect references in the posters for the exhibit.

Masami Zeniya, executive director of the Tokyo museum, acknowledged having "upset" the Taiwanese with the misnaming. "We take this matter very seriously and made the corrections immediately," he said. "We would like to apologize for causing trouble."

The exhibition opens to the public on Tuesday. The jadeite cabbage will return to Taiwan in two weeks, as planned, but 200 other items will be on display until the exhibition moves in September to the Kyushu National Museum on the island of Kyushu.

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Associated Press writers Miki Toda and Koji Ueda contributed to this report.

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