An annual paper released by Japan’s Defense Ministry warned of the dangers of China’s activity near Taiwan as Tokyo is following the US and is changing its rhetoric over the island. It marks the first time Taiwan tensions were mentioned in the paper, which was on Tuesday.
The paper reads: “China has further intensified military activities around Taiwan including Chinese aircrafts’ entering the southwestern airspace of Taiwan. In the meantime, the United States has demonstrated a clear stance of supporting Taiwan in military aspects, such as transits by US vessels through the Taiwan Strait and weapon sales.”
The US has increased its military activity in sensitive areas in the region, like the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, which has led China to do the same. The paper said the increased tensions are something Tokyo needs to keep an eye on. “Therefore, it is necessary that we pay close attention to the situation with a sense of crisis more than ever before,” the paper said.
Last week, Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso raised the idea of Japan joining the US in defending Taiwan if China moves to take the island by force. “If a major incident happened [in Taiwan], it would not be strange at all if it touches on a situation threatening survival,” Aso said. “If that is the case, Japan and the US must defend Taiwan together.”
In April, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and President Biden released a joint statement that called for “peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” The statement might not seem like much, but it marked the first time the leaders of the US and Japan mentioned Taiwan in a joint statement since 1969.
Like the US, Japan has no formal relations with Taiwan. But Washington is taking steps to boost ties with Taipei as part of its anti-China strategy. The US sees rallying allies against Beijing as vital to its China policy, so it’s no surprise that Japan is following Washington’s lead on Taiwan.