On March 16, 2021, U.S. Secretaries of Protection Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with their Japanese counterparts, Protection Minister Kishi Nobuo and International Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, for the Safety Consultative Committee (SCC) assembly. Higher generally known as the “2+2,” SCC conferences have traditionally offered the alternatives for alliance managers on either side to breathe new life into the alliance relationship between Washington and Tokyo, and thus are inclined to turn into a topic of intense scrutiny.
The March 16 assembly was no totally different. The joint assertion issued after the assembly attracted appreciable consideration, significantly within the Indo-Pacific area. Along with reaffirming the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance as “the cornerstone” of peace and prosperity within the Indo-Pacific area, the U.S. and Japan notably known as out China for habits that contradicts the values and ideas that anchor the present worldwide order. Moreover, breaking from previous 2+2 statements, the March 2021 joint assertion made a transparent reference that peace and stability throughout the Taiwan Strait are vital pursuits for each the U.S. and Japan. The joint assertion issued following the Japan-U.S. summit assembly between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on April 16 additionally reiterated the 2 international locations’ shared curiosity within the peace and stability of Taiwan Strait.
Certainly, China is deploying more and more aggressive rhetoric towards Taiwan, main Admiral Phil Davidson to warn in his final Congressional testimony because the commander of Indo-Pacific Command (INCOPACOM) of the rising danger of Beijing’s adventurism vis-à-vis Taipei. Alongside that development, Tokyo has lastly begun to brazenly acknowledge that the peace and safety of the Taiwan Strait instantly impacts that of Japan.
In actual fact, there’s a rising motion amongst coverage elites in Tokyo to advocate for Japan to legislate a legislation that’s much like america’ Taiwan Relations Act, thereby establishing a clearer linkage between peace and stability throughout the Taiwan Strait and Japan’s personal nationwide safety. For instance, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Get together’s International Affairs Subcommittee held the primary assembly of the “Taiwan Challenge Workforce” on February 10, 2021. The mission workforce seeks to strengthen relations between Japan and Taiwan amid rising strain from China on Taiwan. Moreover, even within the space of safety cooperation, which is taken into account essentially the most delicate, Tokyo and Taipei have loved a protracted historical past of exchanges between retired senior navy leaders of each international locations, which has sustained a venue for them to debate their shared safety considerations. In different phrases, Japan already has a great place to begin to deepen safety cooperation with Taiwan.
After all, there are challenges. One is the fact that Japan and Taiwan wouldn’t have a proper diplomatic relationship. As an example, on September 18, 2020, Kishi stated throughout his press convention that, whereas Japan acknowledges Taiwan as a vital associate, Japan will proceed to abide by the 1972 Japan-China Joint Communique as the first place in its relationship with Taiwan. China insists that Taiwan’s independence can be grounds for conflict. Subsequently, any transfer by Tokyo to deepen its ties with Taipei, particularly in safety points, will most definitely set off a powerful response from Beijing. Makes an attempt to advertise Japan-Taiwan safety cooperation should stroll the fantastic line between attempting to deepen safety relations between the 2 on the one hand, however doing so in a approach that won’t provoke an aggressive response from Beijing.
Nevertheless, given China’s rising aggressiveness vis-à-vis Taiwan together with the acceleration of its navy actions close to and in opposition to Taiwan, time is ripe for Japan to discover inventive methods during which it could possibly deepen safety cooperation with Taipei. For instance, given the function the Japan Self-Protection Forces (JSDF) have performed in serving to Japan response to large-scale disasters in addition to pandemics, the JSDF can share their experiences in addition to “classes realized” with Taiwanese armed forces by means of the present channel with retired JSDF senior leaders. In the same context, there could also be room for the Japan Coast Guard to interact their Taiwanese counterparts on points referring to maritime security.
As well as, Japan could contemplate sending observers to U.S. efforts to assist Taiwan’s armed forces improve their functionality. As an example, america has despatched navy observers to Taiwan’s annual Han Kuang train. In November 2020, the U.S. Marine Corps was reported to have performed joint coaching with the Taiwanese navy for amphibious warfare, although the U.S. Division of Protection denied the media reviews. These U.S. efforts clearly have been saved largely quiet. Japan may contemplate becoming a member of the continued U.S. efforts, probably sending lately retired JSDF senior leaders to watch Taiwan’s navy workouts.
Lastly, there may be rising potential for Japan to cooperate with Taiwan on points associated to financial safety, particularly with the Biden administration’s renewed give attention to provide chain resiliency for america and its allies and companions. Japan and Taiwan can play an vital function in areas associated to financial safety, from provide chain resiliency to safeguarding superior applied sciences that might be utilized for nationwide safety end-uses. Japan can cooperate with Taiwan on these points within the context of a strong business-to-business relationship that already exists.
Nevertheless casual it might have been, Japan and Taiwan have loved a protracted historical past of friendship and cooperation. Their relationship has additionally loved political and public assist. Given the rising Chinese language assertiveness within the Indo-Pacific area generally and rising aggressiveness towards Taiwan specifically, it might be a excessive time for Japan to accentuate its effort to discover methods to pursue larger safety cooperation with Taiwan.
The writer wish to thank Stimson Middle non-resident fellow Akihiro Furusho for offering background analysis that culminated on this article.