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Japan’s newfound boldness on defending Taiwan

7 20 1

In recent months, Tokyo has issued increasingly bold statements of support for Taiwan against Chinese intimidation, even hinting at military support during potential hostilities. An expanded Japanese alliance role in protecting regional security is a welcome development.

However, the extent to which Tokyo would join U.S. forces in protecting Taiwan remains uncertain, as does the ability of the habitually slow Japanese decision-making process to respond expeditiously during a crisis. U.S. policymakers should engage with Tokyo to remove political impediments to action and coordinate military contingency plans.

Japan’s increasing concern with China’s intimidation of its neighbors triggered a shift toward greater willingness to publicly align its national interests with the security of Taiwan. Last December, State Minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama defined Taiwan’s safety as a “red line” and urged President-elect Joe Biden to “be strong” in supporting Taiwan against Chinese aggression.

This March, Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin agreed to closely cooperate in the event of a Chinese assault on Taiwan. The Japanese ministers of foreign affairs and defense issued a statement in conjunction with their U.S. counterparts “underscoring the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait” and highlighted it as a critical interest for both countries.

In an April joint statement with President Biden, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga affirmed the “importance........

© The Japan Times

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