The joint declaration issued during last month’s U.S.-Japan summit reads, in part: “We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”

The last time that Taiwan was mentioned in a joint declaration was 52 years ago during the 1969 summit between U.S. President Richard Nixon and Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato. The 1969 statement read: “Prime Minister (Sato) said that the maintenance of peace and security in the Taiwan area was also a most important factor for the security of Japan.”

Even compared to the relatively dry wording of the 1969 declaration, the 2021 statement struck a perfunctory tone. The U.S. side reportedly pushed for more explicit wording regarding U.S.-Japan coordination for Taiwan’s defense, but the Japanese side preferred more cautious phrasing.