• Kyodo


Japan will mention the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait in its next annual defense report for the first time, as China’s military pressure on the self-ruled island intensifies, a draft of the document showed Thursday.

“The stability of the situation surrounding Taiwan is important for the security of Japan and the stability of the international community,” said the draft of the white paper, which is set to be formally brought forward at a Cabinet meeting and released in July.

Again touching on security concerns over China’s military development, the defense report is set to have a new section focusing on U.S.-China relations, in which the government says “a change in the military power balance may impact regional peace and stability.”

The planned reference to Taiwan comes after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden underscored in April “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

It marked the first time in 52 years that leaders of Japan and the United States have referred to Taiwan in a joint statement — a move that immediately drew a protest from Beijing, which regards the island as a renegade province awaiting reunification by force if necessary.

The draft of the report states Chinese military planes have been active around Taiwan, while the United States has been increasingly supportive of the island such as by selling weapons and boosting the presence of the U.S. military in the Taiwan Strait.

It warned that the trend favors China in terms of the military power balance between the country and Taiwan.

Also for the first time, the upcoming defense report is set to call repeated intrusions by Chinese vessels into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea as a “violation of international law.” China claims the uninhabited islands, calling them the Diaoyu.

China’s implementation of a new law in February that allows its coast guard to use weapons against ships it views as intruding into its territory is problematic under international law, it added.

On U.S.-China relations, it said political, economic and military rivalry between them is becoming more apparent, adding that their military activities are growing active especially in the South China Sea.

Noting views that China is seeking to acquire advanced technologies from other countries for the development of its armed forces, the report said protection of them is another important issue Japan needs to deal with.

On North Korea, the paper said a ballistic missile Pyongyang launched in March was a “new type.”

It said North Korea is believed to have already acquired the capability to attack Japan with a nuclear ballistic missile and is also pushing ahead with the development of ballistic missiles with irregular trajectories.

As for international cooperation, it said Japan will strengthen cooperation with the United States, Australia and India — four major democracies collectively known as the Quad — to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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