For the first time, Japan has explicitly warned about Taiwan’s security in its annual defense white paper on July 12.
The specific wording on the Taiwan issue in the 2021 defense document is very different from previous years, which carefully avoided any rhetoric that could provoke the Chinese communist regime.
The paper states that Taiwan’s stability is “important for Japan’s security” and for the international community, calling on officials to “pay close attention to the situation with a sense of crisis.”
It points out the “overall military balance between China and Taiwan is tilting in China’s favor, and the gap appears to be growing year by year.”
Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, is a sovereign, democratic country with a strong unofficial relationship and is a trading partner of the United States. However, the communist regime in Beijing sees it as part of Chinese territory and has recently increased its threats toward the island nation’s independence and security. It has become the norm for Chinese military aircraft to fly near Taiwan or intrude into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
“No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s determination, will, and strong ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned the United States and other Western countries at the party’s centennial commemoration last week.
Japan said in the paper that it would pay attention to the development of this situation.
“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 document states. “Therefore, it is necessary to pay more attention to the military movements of the two countries in the South China Sea and Taiwan.”
It highlights the Chinese regime’s continuing military expansion over the past 20 years, pointing out China’s military expenditure is at least 16 times that of Taiwan’s, and the gap is expanding annually. The white paper said that China’s military budget of $181.6 billion is already four times that of Japan.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi emphasized the importance of cooperation between Japan and the United States in regards to regional security. He said that the Japanese Ministry of Defense would not only cooperate with the United States, but also with Australia, India, Canada, New Zealand, Britain, France, and other European countries, and would make more contributions to the maintenance of regional and international peace and security.
The paper states, “The Alliance is the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the region, and we will strive to further strengthen its deterrence and response capabilities in order to further solidify the unshakable bond of the Japan–U.S. Alliance.”
Taiwan has welcomed Japan’s unusually direct statement, while the Chinese regime’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the white paper is “extremely wrong and irresponsible.”
The white paper comes after recent commitments by Japanese defense officials to defend Taiwan together with the United States. Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi linked Taiwan’s security situation directly to that of Japan, and asked the United States to share details of plans to defend Taiwan.
Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso said earlier this month that Japan is closely monitoring the situation in the Taiwan Strait.