Taiwan’s Stability Is Key to Regional Security, Tokyo’s Envoy Tells Canadian MPs

Taiwan’s Stability Is Key to Regional Security, Tokyo’s Envoy Tells Canadian MPs
Kanji Yamanouchi, ambassador of Japan, speaks onstage in New York City on Nov. 8, 2018. (Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Grand Seiko)
William Crooks

The security of Taiwan is very important at a time when China is trying to “change the status quo by force” in the South China Sea, says Japan’s ambassador to Canada.

Speaking before a meeting of the Canada–People’s Republic of China Relationship (CACN) Commons committee, Kanji Yamanouchi said Taiwan’s “peace and stability” is important for the region.

“The Taiwan Strait is very important, not only for the security of Japan, but also the stability of the international community as a whole,” Mr. Yamanouchi told the Feb. 12 meeting.

“It has been Japan’s consistent position for a long time that the issue surrounding Taiwan is to be resolved peacefully through dialogue,” he added.

Beijing considers Taiwan a part of its territory and actively isolates it from the international community while also escalating military threats against the island nation.

Mr. Yamanouchi said the Japanese government emphasizes the critical importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and is committed to taking every possible measure to ensure the safety and prosperity of the Japanese people and those in the region.

Mr. Yamanouchi also emphasized the importance of increased cooperation between Canada and Japan, including joint military exercises.

Asked by Conservative MP Michael Chong about Japan’s military spending, Mr. Yamanouchi said the government plans to increase defence spending to 2 percent of GDP by fiscal year 2027, effectively doubling current defence expenditures. This increase, he said, has public support due to the growing complexities and challenges in Japan’s security situation.

Liberal MP Marie-France Lalonde asked for Mr. Yamanouchi’s opinion on China’s influence in the region.

“If I may lay it out, we see China’s unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force in the eastern South China Seas,” Mr. Yamanouchi said.

He pointed out that China’s military activities, some in conjunction with Russia, underscore the critical importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

“Japan will firmly maintain and assert that position, and strongly urge—request—China to act responsibly,” Mr. Yamanouchi said.

But the top diplomat also added that his country continues to engage with China, especially in areas where he said there is potential for cooperation, such as environmental issues.

BQ MP Stéphane Bergeron asked Mr. Yamanouchi about Japan’s position on maintaining the “rule of law” in the region, given that “powers” in the region, like China and North Korea, have been calling it into question.

Mr. Yamanouchi said a joint action plan between Canada and Japan, aligned with Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy, has led to significant, increased Canada-Japan defence cooperation. Examples include a Japan-Canada military exercise termed KAEDEX (“Maple” in Japanese to symbolize its joint nature).

These exercises, along with participation in United Nations activities to monitor North Korean ship-to-ship transfers under Security Council resolutions, highlight the countries’ collaboration, the ambassador said. Canada has also deployed CP-140 patrol aircraft to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa to aid in these activities.

Finally, Japanese Self-Defense Forces officers have participated in operations in the Arctic, a region of growing importance and interest for both Canada and Japan.

“Altogether, Canada and Japan are working together for the betterment and also peace and stability of the region itself,” Mr. Yamanouchi said.