Japan’s latest annual defense white paper singles out the issue of Taiwan security for the first time, saying that Japan must closely monitor the security situation in the Taiwan Strait with a stronger sense of crisis than in the past.
The just-released 2021 Japanese Defense White Paper says that the stability of the situation in Taiwan is quite important for Japan’s security and the stability of the international community, but the military balance between China and Taiwan continues to shift in China’s favor and the gap is gradually widening; at the same time, China has intensified its military activities around Taiwan, and Japan will be watching the development of this situation, including the implementation of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
The white paper also said that China sends maritime police vessels to patrol the Senkaku Islands, an inherent territory of Japan, almost every day, and has repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters, and that the situation is getting worse; in response, Japan must further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso said earlier this month that Japan is closely monitoring the situation in the Taiwan Strait. He also said that if a crisis occurs in Taiwan, Japan will join hands with the United States to respond.
The description by Taro Aso is the latest indication that Japanese government officials are increasingly concerned about the situation in the Taiwan Strait and suggest that Japan may become militarily involved in the Taiwan Strait issue.
The U.S. and Japanese militaries are believed to have begun planning in earnest for a possible conflict in the Taiwan Strait during the final year of Donald Trump’s presidency, and have conducted top-secret sandbox exercises.
But the Pentagon tried to downplay the claim. Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. regularly holds joint exercises with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen joint warfare capabilities, and that these exercises do not target any potential adversaries or any specific threats.
U.S. policy toward Taiwan has not changed, he said, including a commitment to help Taiwan defend itself.
In recent months, the Chinese Communist regime has significantly increased its military pressure on Taiwan, and its rhetoric of “unifying Taiwan” by force has increased rapidly. Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping warned the United States and other Western countries at the party’s centennial conference last week that “no one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and powerful ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.