Japan Outlines Taiwan’s Security Importance in Latest Defense Report

Japan Outlines Taiwan’s Security Importance in Latest Defense Report
A Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning (C), during military drills in the South China Sea, in an aerial photo taken on Jan. 2, 2017. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

Japan’s Ministry of Defense appears to be increasing its focus on Taiwan and the threat from China, which views Taiwan—a self-ruled island—as a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland.

Japan devoted 10 pages of its annual defense report (pdf) to Taiwan, double the pages of the previous year’s edition, giving an extensive overview of the security situation there.

The annual defense report stated that stability surrounding Taiwan is “critical for Japan’s security” and must be “closely monitored with a sense of urgency” while cooperating with the international community.

“China has made clear that it would not hesitate to unify Taiwan by force, further increasing tensions in the region,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said in the report released on July 22.

Kishi further criticized the Chinese regime for continuing to unilaterally change, or attempt to change, the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea by coercion.

“The country’s ties with Russia, an aggressor nation, have deepened in recent years, with joint navigations and flights being conducted in the areas surrounding Japan by both Chinese and Russian vessels and aircraft,” he stated.

US–China Conflict Over Taiwan

The defense report stated that conflict between the United States and China is becoming “prominent” over Taiwan, with Washington increasing warship transits through the Taiwan Straits while China increases its military presence near Taiwan.

The United States issued new guidelines in 2021 to boost interaction with Taiwanese officials, which demonstrated that Washington was committed to accelerating involvement in Taiwan. The report also cited U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

China, on the other hand, has increased its military activities in Taiwan’s airspace territorial zone and in the East China Sea, where the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands are located.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense emphasized in its report that any changes to the status quo by coercion are “globally shared challenges,” and that it will seek to reinforce defense capabilities.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded by criticizing Japan’s new defense paper and accusing Japan of meddling in China’s internal affairs regarding Taiwan.

Eight Chinese naval vessels, including the Liaoning aircraft carrier, passed between islands in Japan’s southern Okinawa chain on May 2. Japan has claimed 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.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has planned to increase the country’s defense spending to 2 percent of its gross domestic product within the next five years, according to the policy roadmap released by his administration on June 7.
Reuters contributed to this report.