Taiwan’s Tsai welcomes Japan’s defense policy shift amid China threat

The upper house secretary general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party Hiroshige Seko (L), and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday lauded Japan’s major shift in its security policy of significantly strengthening its defense capabilities, amid the increasing military threat posed by China toward the self-ruled island democracy.

During a meeting in Taipei with Hiroshige Seko, the upper house secretary general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Tsai said Tokyo has shown the “resolve to maintain regional peace and stability” by boosting its defenses.

Tokyo cut diplomatic ties with Taipei, establishing them with Beijing instead in 1972. Seko’s visit to the island is likely to trigger a harsh backlash from the Communist-led Chinese government, which has repeatedly described Taiwan as a “core interest.”

Seko, a former industry minister, is known as one of the close aides of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a security hawk who was shot dead during an election campaign speech in July.

Tsai’s remarks came after Japan earlier this month revised three key defense documents including its National Security Strategy due to the country facing growing security challenges, such as China’s military buildup and North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

In the updated NSS, Japan pledged to obtain “counterstrike capabilities,” the ability to strike targets in enemy territory, and to almost double its annual defense spending to about 2 percent of gross domestic product over the next five years.

The document, reviewed by the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, also said peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is an “indispensable element” for the security and prosperity of the international community.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province it seeks to reunify with the mainland, by force if necessary. The two have been governed separately since they split in 1949 due to civil war.

On the final day of his three-day trip to Taiwan, Seko told Tsai that as a close U.S. security ally, the updating of the defense papers by Japan “will work as a clear and strong deterrent” against attempts to “change the status quo by force.”

Seko added that the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2023 through next September would also enhance deterrence against Beijing. The legislation authorized up to $10 billion in security assistance for Taiwan over the next five years.

Tsai and Seko, meanwhile, agreed to cooperate regarding Taipei’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-member free trade pact, Seko said after their talks.

Japan has no diplomatic ties with Taiwan but maintains a close economic relationship.



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