OpinionMeister

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

US-Japan Common Front on Taiwan Strait

The Japan Times reports on a joint statement by representatives of the US and Japan concerning a common interest over Taiwan. Link.
Japan and the United States agreed Saturday to reinforce their alliance under a new set of common security objectives to deal with "unpredictability and uncertainty" in the Asia-Pacific region.

This includes North Korea's nuclear program, China's rising military power and tension across the Taiwan Strait. (...)

The top-level security talks, the first since December 2002, involved Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Defense Agency Director General Yoshinori Ono.

The reference to the cross-strait issue could be taken as Japan siding with the U.S. in the event of a crisis over Taiwan, thus aggravating China, which regards the island as a part of its territory and has repeatedly threatened to use force if Taiwan moves toward independence.

This is a big deal. Japan has been largely army-less and pacifist since 1945. They were under the US defense umbrella and did not need much of a defense force of their own. This has been changing. The deployment of a few hundred Japanese self defense force troops to Iraq for non-combat assistance was the first time that such forces have been deployed outside of Japan. They can see that Europe has also become largely army-less and pacifist, and they have only the US to rely on. With China and North Korea as neighbors, they cannot afford to take this reliance for granted. Look for them to be increasing their defense capability and to increase the coordination of that defense capability with the US military.

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