In the “two-plus-two” meeting that took place last week, the Japanese and U.S. governments unequivocally called out China, highlighting the country’s unilateral and unlawful attempts to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific. Since then, there has been much debate on what this means for the region, especially in the context of Taiwan.

Hypothetically, imagine an incident occurs between China and Taiwan that kicks off an escalation cycle, and China decides to exploit the opportunity to realize its long-standing desire to take over the island nation. How does Japan respond in that situation?

The specific issue of what Japan will do is a policy question to which there is no definitive answer. After all, policies change and it is difficult enough to predict what will happen in the politics of the day, let alone of the future. However, there is the question of what Japan can do. In other words, what is allowable under international law and Japan's domestic legislation?