In recent months, Tokyo has issued increasingly bold statements of support for Taiwan against Chinese intimidation, even hinting at military support during potential hostilities. An expanded Japanese alliance role in protecting regional security is a welcome development.

However, the extent to which Tokyo would join U.S. forces in protecting Taiwan remains uncertain, as does the ability of the habitually slow Japanese decision-making process to respond expeditiously during a crisis. U.S. policymakers should engage with Tokyo to remove political impediments to action and coordinate military contingency plans.

Japan’s increasing concern with China’s intimidation of its neighbors triggered a shift toward greater willingness to publicly align its national interests with the security of Taiwan. Last December, State Minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama defined Taiwan’s safety as a “red line” and urged President-elect Joe Biden to “be strong” in supporting Taiwan against Chinese aggression.