• Kyodo

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A pro-independence Taiwanese think tank threw its backing Monday behind Japan’s decision last week to allow the use of collective self-defense.

Liu Shih-chung, president of the Taiwan Brain Trust, voiced regret that the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou was unclear about its position on the decision by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet to approve a reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution.

“The think tank is in favor of the Abe Cabinet’s decision to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense,” he said, adding its members hope Japan will play a more responsible leading role in the region and all Asian-Pacific countries refrain from unilaterally changing the status quo with nonpeaceful means.

Liu said that while they do not urge the Abe administration to go a step further to enact the Japanese version of the Taiwan Relations Act, they hope Taiwan would be more clearly included in the Japan-U.S. security cooperation guidelines when they are revised this year.

The Taiwan Relations Act is a U.S. law passed in 1979 that requires the United States to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.

The think tank also hopes Taipei and Tokyo will work toward a bilateral free trade agreement so Taiwan can diversify its risks and not rely too much on China economically.

Luo Fu-chuan said Japan was ready to sign a trade pact similar to a free trade agreement when he served as a Taiwanese representative to Japan between 2000 and 2004.

However, the plan fell through “because Japan had certain misgivings about the potential impact on its relationship with China.”

Due to the lack of diplomatic ties, Taiwan’s former representative to Japan Koh Se-kai said FTA talks between Taiwan and Japan are semiofficial.

“If Japan is willing, the agreement can be signed at any time,” he said. “The key lies in whether Japan will be able to overcome its misgivings about China.”

Luo and Koh suggested that Japan might come to the defense of Taiwan if China were to attack.

Koh said this would depend on whether the Japanese government considered such an attack constituted a threat to Japan’s national security.

Describing Taiwan-Japan relations as an “extension of Japan-U.S. security cooperation,” Luo said the fundamental position of Japan and the United States is that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait must be maintained.

“The United States does not approve of any threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. “Japan should also take the same position.”