Japan Cites Concern for Taiwan’s Stability in First Policy Roadmap

Japan Cites Concern for Taiwan’s Stability in First Policy Roadmap
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence, in Tokyo, Japan, on Oct. 14, 2021. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo, File)
Aldgra Fredly

Japan will double its defense spending in the next five years, according to a policy roadmap released June 7. The document cited the need to increase defense capabilities and maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait, where Beijing has increased its military presence.

The Japanese Cabinet approved the annual fiscal and economic policy roadmap, the first such policy guidelines released under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration.

The guidelines state that Japan will increase defense spending to 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), referring to the commitment made by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Japan currently spends just over 1 percent of its GDP on defense.
In a footnote, reported by the Taipei Times, the document emphasized the “importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” and encouraged “the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues.”
This comes after Kishida and President Joe Biden held a summit in Tokyo last month, during which they called for a peaceful resolution of issues regarding Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

The escalation of Chinese military activities in East Asia has heightened Tokyo’s concerns about the self-ruled island. Taiwan, along with its neighbor, Japanese-controlled Okinawa, contain Beijing’s forces.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said on May 10 that Chinese fighter jets took off from and landed on an aircraft carrier near Okinawa more than 100 times from May 3 to May 7.

Kishi said the activities could be part of an effort to improve China’s ability to operate aircraft carriers and conduct operations in more distant waters and airspace.

“Given that these activities are in the sea and airspace near Japan’s Nansei Islands and Taiwan, we must watch these activities with concern,” he said.

In December 2021, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that an armed invasion of Taiwan would pose a serious threat to Japan, given that Japan’s Senkaku Islands—which China calls the Diaoyu Islands—the Sakishima Islands, and Yonaguni Island are only 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Taiwan.

“A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan–U.S. alliance. People in Beijing, [Chinese regime leader] Xi Jinping in particular, should never have a misunderstanding in recognizing this,” he said, adding that Japan and Taiwan must work together to protect freedom and democracy.

Meanwhile, Japan’s opposition Constitutional Democratic Party and the finance ministry had voiced concern about the planned increase in the defense budget, given that the government may need to secure an additional 5 trillion yen ($7.5 billion) for it, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

The document, which discussed issues from energy security to Kishida’s “new capitalism” economic policy, did not specify how much a commitment to “drastically strengthen” defense spending would be.

Reuters contributed to this report.