Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui said Thursday he supports Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security bills aimed at expanding the Self-Defense Forces’ operations overseas, calling it a step toward ensuring peace in Asia and the world.
“I have a positive view about the security legislation being pursued by Prime Minister Abe. . . . I believe that the security legislation will contribute to Asian and global peace,” Lee said at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
Lee, 92, said that while he understands there are different views about the security bills now in the Diet, Japan taking on a greater role in the international community amid global security changes is the “right way.”
Amid protests by opposition parties, the Lower House passed the controversial bills last week that would allow the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or come to the aid of the United States or other allies under armed attack even if Japan itself is not.
China has expressed concern over the SDF taking a greater role abroad.
Lee, who was Taiwan’s first directly elected president, is in Japan on his seventh visit since he left office in 2000.
China has regularly criticized Japan for granting Lee visas to visit as it considers him a pro-independence figure. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province.
Lee, when he was still in power in 1999, angered China when he redefined cross-strait ties as a “special state-to-state relationship.”