Amid heated criticism from Chinese Premier Li Peng over Japan’s support of the U.S. in a hypothetical China-Taiwan conflict, the Liberal Democratic Party said August 22 that it will not specifically define the “areas surrounding Japan” phrase of the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation pact, but that Japan respects Beijing’s one-China policy.

Taku Yamasaki, the LDP’s policy chief, wrote an opaque, eight-point memo to that effect and presented it to the ruling party allies as a draft for a joint statement on the issue. The phrase refers to areas in which Japanese support would be required for U.S. military forces in the event of an emergency.

The policy chiefs are concerned about China’s anger over recent remarks made by Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama that the areas include the Taiwan Strait. Yamasaki’s paper also said that Japan’s position in revising the bilateral defense guidelines is to respect a 1972 Japan-China joint statement that says Taiwan’s problems are the internal affairs of China.

Yamasaki is chairing the defense guideline review with the policy chiefs of the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake. The policy chiefs want their decisions to be reflected in talks on the guidelines scheduled for mid-September between Japan and the U.S.

The political parties will meet again August 25 after discussing the draft with members of each party. They are expected to reach an agreement next week.

Yamasaki’s draft is seen by some as an effort to appease China ahead of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s visit next month. The SDP, however, is demanding that Japan make clear that the new defense cooperation guidelines will not cover the Taiwan Strait. Both Japan and the U.S. believe the scope of the concerned areas is more a concept with an emphasis on conflicts rather than geography.

The parties say they recognize that rear-area support “relates closely” to the concept of the Far East stated in Article 6 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Since the new guidelines will be established with that treaty in mind, the Far East, according to the two governments’ interpretation, includes Taiwan.

Coronavirus banner