Taiwanese Military Expert Sheds Light on Why Japan Treats Taiwan Emergency as Its Own

Authoritarian regimes make democratic camp more united

Taiwanese Military Expert Sheds Light on Why Japan Treats Taiwan Emergency as Its Own
Soldiers stand onboard a Taiwan Navy minelayer in Keelung, Taiwan, on Jan. 7, 2022. Taiwan is bracing for more Chinese military patrols this year, after People's Liberation Army incursions more than doubled in 2021, fueling concern about a clash between the region's big powers. (I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Jessica Mao

Over 90 percent of Japanese adults believe that Japan should prepare for an emergency response in case Beijing decides to invade Taiwan, according to a recent poll.

According to a May 27 to May 29 poll by Japanese media Nikkei Asia on the issue of how Japan should prepare for a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, 50 percent of respondents said that Japan should do as much as possible within the scope of existing laws; and 41 percent said Japan should improve its responsiveness, including revising the country’s constitution as needed. Together, over 90 percent said they believe it is necessary for Japan to make preparations in case of a Taiwan emergency, while 60 percent also expressed support for Japan to possess its own counter-strike capabilities.

In the event of an emergency in Taiwan, Japan may take action in accordance with the provisions of the Peace and Security Law, which allows the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to provide necessary support activities in a situation that has an important influence to Japan’s peace and security or threatens international peace and security.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also publicly expressed his support of Taiwan.

In a video conference with Tsai Ing-wen, President of the Republic of China, on March 22, Abe said: “Last year, at a seminar held by a Taiwan think tank, I said that if Taiwan has a problem, then Japan has a problem, and the Japan-U.S. alliance also has a problem. Of course, this was a way of expressing my own sense of urgency, and I myself advocated for the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

3 Reasons Japan Wants to Help Taiwan

So why does Japan strongly support Taiwan?

In an interview with The Epoch Times on June 1, Su Tzu-yun, an associate research fellow at Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said there are three main reasons.

The first is to defend the common value of democracy because the democratic system is currently under threat from the CCP’s authoritarianism, and it is apparent that the CCP is attempting to expand its authoritarian rule, Su said.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “uses democratic means to destroy democracy, and uses freedom of speech to destroy freedom of speech,” he said.

“Just as former U.S. President Donald Trump had said, the CCP destroys free trade through free trade; in other words, through unfair competition. Therefore, these evil conducts of the CCP are in the same line, regardless of whether it is in the economical, political or military aspects,” he added, saying that the CCP has been infiltrating all major democratic countries, including the European Union, the United States, and Australia.

In addition, the CCP is exporting its model of digital authoritarianism, such as exporting surveillance technology to some monarchies in the Middle East, which worries democratic countries, Su said.

Moreover, the CCP acts as an irresponsible member in the international community, he continued. It wants to subvert the stability of the rules-based international society by creating another set of rules.

When the United States invited China to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), it originally hoped that the CCP would carry out political reforms after it has made progress in economic development, Su said. However, instead of embarking on the right path, the CCP has deviated farther and farther away from democracy, posing a threat to human civilization.

"My observation is, this is not merely a Taiwan Strait issue, nor is it a so-called reunification issue at all. The Taiwan Strait issue is a competition between democracy and authoritarianism, and that is the key."

The second reason for Japan’s supportive attitude is out of the consideration of national security interests, according to Su.

Japan relies on the waterway from the South China Sea through the waters surrounding Taiwan to get 90 percent of its crude oil and 76 percent of its natural gas. Its exports to Europe rely on this waterway even more, Su said.

“That is why Japan's political elites believe that ‘if Taiwan has a problem, then Japan has a problem.’ Its ‘maritime lifeline’ is really dependent on the security of Taiwan,” Su elaborated.

He believes that the CCP's military expansionism is another reason for Japan to support Taiwan.

The CCP has become a real threat to world peace, because it is obsessed with military expansion, thinking that only military expansions will guarantee national security, Su said.

The democratic camp has now formed a stronger alliance under the CCP’s threat.

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a very good analogy. He has achieved what neither Trump nor Biden can do, which is to unite the entire NATO,” Su explained.

Relaxing Export Controls on Defense Equipment

A May 28 article from The Japan Times revealed that the Japanese government is discussing further relaxation of export control measures for defense equipment, hoping to enhance cooperation with allies and strengthen deterrence against the CCP.

In 2014, Japan established the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology as the first step to ease its export ban, but the export of lethal weapons was still prohibited.

According to these principles, exports to countries that do not jointly develop arms with Japan are limited to equipment for rescue, transport, warning, surveillance, and minesweeping missions.

Su told The Epoch Times that there is currently no direct military cooperation between Taiwan and Japan. Assuming that Japan eventually eases its export rules, Taiwan may consider purchasing submarines from Japan.

"The performance of Japan's submarines are superb, and they will be a very important defense tool for Taiwan in fighting this asymmetrical warfare [with the CCP]," he said.

"The second category for Taiwan to consider is electronic warfare equipment, as Japan's electronic technology is also very advanced,” Su continued. “(And) there is another cooperation that is relatively easy to achieve in the short term, that is strategic intelligence cooperation."

Su believes that Taiwan and Japan may get started with economic security cooperation first, before preceding with military cooperation.

“This is because we want to make sure the bilateral cooperation is set on a solid and steady basis,” he explained.