Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the security of Taiwan was directly linked with that of Japan, as tensions around the island build up and its defenses are increasingly overshadowed by China’s military might.

The comments from a Cabinet minister known for his close ties to Taipei came a week after China sent 28 warplanes near Taiwan, in the latest ratcheting up of military pressure around the democratically ruled island, 110 kilometers from Japan at its nearest point. Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory.

"The peace and stability of Taiwan are directly connected to Japan and we are closely monitoring ties between China and Taiwan, as well as Chinese military activity,” Kishi said in an interview on Thursday. "As China strengthens its military, its balance with Taiwan is tipping heavily to the Chinese side,” he said, adding the gap is widening every year.