Japanese defense paper highlights Taiwan tensions as security risk

Japanese defense paper highlights Taiwan tensions as security risk

The Associated Press

Japan believes rising tension surrounding Taiwan requires its attention “with a sense of crisis” as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intensifies military activities in the area and the United States steps up support for the self-governing island.

Japan’s concerns about Taiwan, Beijing’s growing rivalry with the U.S. and the CCP’s increasingly assertive military actions in the region were added to an annual Defense Ministry paper adopted in early July 2021 by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet.

“Stabilizing the Taiwan situation is important for Japan’s national security and stability of the international community,” the paper said. “We need to pay close attention with a sense of crisis more than ever before.”

As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) flexes its muscle in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan has become a flashpoint, as Japan, the U.S. and other democracies develop closer ties with the self-ruled island that Beijing regards as a renegade territory to be united by force if necessary.

“As China rapidly enhances its military power, changes in the military power balance between the United States and China may possibly affect the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region,” the paper said. “It is necessary to pay greater attention to the military trends of the two countries in areas such as the South China Sea and Taiwan.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian called the report “extremely erroneous and irresponsible.”

Taiwan was a Japanese colony for 50 years until 1945, and connections between the two remain strong.

The CCP has expanded its military capability over the past 20 years, with its defense spending at least 16 times that of Taiwan and the gap increasing each year, the paper said. China’s military budget of U.S. $181.6 billion is four times that of Japan.

The PRC has also increased Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation, leaving it with just over a dozen formal diplomatic allies. Taiwan still operates a network of trade offices that act as de facto embassies, including in Japan, the U.S. and most other major nations.

Japan is increasingly worried about Taiwan’s security implications amid rising tension between Beijing and Washington. The U.S., Japan’s most important ally, has increased its military support for Taiwan, including through arms sales and dispatching warships to the Taiwan Strait. (Pictured: Taiwan troops stage a drill aimed at repelling an attack from mainland China.)

The CCP’s increased military capability and the lack of clarity to its defense spending “have become a matter of grave concern to the region including Japan and the international community,” the paper said.

It also criticized the PRC over its “relentless attempts to unilaterally change the status quo” of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which the PRC also claims, calling it “a violation of international law.”

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Chinese vessels had remained just outside Japanese territorial waters around the Senkakus for 150 straight days as of early July, describing it as “an extremely grave situation.”