China’s threat to Taiwan is a ‘tremendous challenge’ for all, Japan’s Shinzo Abe warns

China’s recent warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears this week, as former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated pro-Taiwan remarks and suggested US and Japanese forces could act in the event. conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

Abe, who resigned in September 2020 for health reasons, sparked a minor diplomatic incident earlier this month when he told a forum that an ’emergency in Taiwan’ would be an emergency for Tokyo and the US alliance. -Japanese.

The United States has been deliberately ambiguous about its intention to defend the Democratic Island from a Chinese invasion. During a televised appearance on Monday, Abe said an attack on any intervening U.S. Navy ship “could be a situation threatening the survival of Japan, which would allow the exercise of collective self-defense,” according to Kyodo. News.

The former Japanese leader’s choice of words was also significant, as only an existential threat could justify a response from the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) under a 2014 reinterpretation of Japan’s post-war constitution. country. Abe said the action could involve logistical support for the US military – a term that covers possibilities ranging from base access to troop transport and resupply.

On Tuesday, Abe delivered a virtual keynote address, in English, at a Taiwan-US-Japan event hosted by the Prospect Foundation think tank in Taipei. Speaking after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s opening speech, Abe again drew attention to the island’s security.

“[W]When there is a threat to Taiwan and its democracy, it is a terrible challenge for all of us, especially for Japan,” he said, linking the potential for cross-strait war to the Tokyo’s own defense planning and the close relationship between the JSDF It also encouraged continued defense improvements in Japan, Taiwan and the United States.

“Lest we forget, weakness invites provocation. We must stop no effort to build our capabilities in all areas, from submarine, sea surface, airspace, to cyber and outer space,” Abe said. “To do this, let’s think about new ways to share our knowledge and technologies even more effectively.”

“Here’s another point: an adventure in military affairs, if pursued by such a huge economy as China’s, could be suicidal to say the least,” Abe added, repeating the Dec. 1 remarks made in Japanese. “We must urge them not to pursue territorial expansion and to refrain from provoking, often intimidating, their neighbours, as this should harm their own interests.”

Japan's Shinzo Abe backs Taiwan under pressure
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a virtual speech at the opening of the 2021 Taiwan-US-Japan Trilateral Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue, an annual forum hosted by the Prospect Foundation think tank in Taipei, Taiwan, on December 14, 2021.
Makoto Lin/Office of the President, Taiwan

Other attendees at Tuesday’s event included Scott Busby, acting principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the State Department; and Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-VA-2), a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran who argued in a Washington Post October op-ed that Congress should “untie Biden’s hands” by granting the president the power to respond to an invasion of Taiwan.

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) – US ambassador to Japan between 2017 and 2019 – also attended, as did Robert O’Brien, who served as national security adviser under former President Donald Trump. A number of Japanese parliamentarians were also present for the discussions.

Like the United States, Japan has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but has maintained close cultural and economic ties with the Taiwanese government and its private sector over the decades. Like the United States, Japan’s recent political support for Taiwan has been met with opposition from China, which claims a historic claim to the island despite never having ruled it.

Following Abe’s pro-Taiwan remarks two weeks earlier, the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned Japan’s Ambassador to Beijing, Hideo Tarumi, to file a formal complaint. Reporting meeting details, Hong Kong South China Morning Post said last Thursday that China was threatening to “reconsider” bilateral relations with Tokyo if the trend continued.

It was a telltale sign of Abe’s remaining influence in Japanese politics, particularly as the leader of the largest faction within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Abe’s conservative wing is reportedly pressuring Japan’s new prime minister, the moderate Fumio Kishida, to join the US-led diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022.

Japan's Shinzo Abe backs Taiwan under pressure
A file photo of then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviewing troops of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces on October 14, 2018 in Asaka, Japan.
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

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