Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso has signaled that Tokyo would consider a Chinese invasion of Taiwan an existential threat to its security, allowing Japan to help defend the self-ruled island with the United States.

"If a major incident happened (over Taiwan), it’s safe to say it would be related to a situation threatening the survival (of Japan). If that is the case, Japan and the U.S. must defend Taiwan together,” local media quoted Aso as saying during a speech in Tokyo on Monday.

With the remarks, Aso became the most senior government official to state a clear scenario in which the Self-Defense Forces would be deployed to help defend another country or region.