Security role of Japan and Taiwan at the center of two-plus-two talks with the United States | World news

By Ju-min Park and David Brunnstrom

TOKYO / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The question of Japan’s security role at a time of growing tension over Taiwan is expected to feature prominently at a meeting between Japan’s foreign and defense ministers on Friday and the United States.

The so-called two plus two talks will take place a day after Japan signed a defense cooperation pact with Australia, and as concerns about China’s increased military and economic power loom in the air. ‘horizon.

Tension over democratically ruled Taiwan has increased over the past two years as China intensifies military and diplomatic pressure to assert sovereignty over the island it claims as its “sacred” territory.

“Ministers are expected to talk about security cooperation in the region,” a Japanese foreign ministry official told reporters ahead of the talks.

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This would “certainly” include the cooperation the two countries are pursuing with Australia and other partners.

Japan maintains a “one-China” policy and aims to balance its relations with neighboring China and longtime military ally, the United States.

China is Japan’s top export destination, accounting for $ 141 billion in exports in 2020, according to IMF trade data.

Yet Japan’s relations with Taiwan have flourished in recent years on a largely non-governmental basis, and there has been growing debate among politicians and security experts about whether to get involved if China were to undertake a military action against the island.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe taiwan- On 2021-12-01 said last month that Japan and the United States could not stand idly by if China attacked Taiwan, in comments that drew criticism from Beijing.

The Japanese and US armed forces have drawn up a draft plan for a joint emergency operation in Taiwan, Kyodo news agency reported draw-up-plan-of-operation-joint-any-emergency-taiwan-kyodo-2021-12-23.

Friday’s two plus two talks could see the allies agree to formalize their work on the plan, Kyodo said.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry official declined to comment.

In October, the Japanese government posted a more assertive line 10-05 on China’s position vis-à-vis Taiwan, suggesting it would consider options and prepare for “various scenarios”.

However, experts said they did not expect a significant change in Japan’s stance vis-à-vis Taiwan anytime soon.

“The two plus two could be an opportunity to talk widely about what Japan might be ready to do, but it would never be publicly acknowledged if it did,” said Jeffrey Hornung, a Japanese political expert. to the Rand Corporation, noting that the two sides might want to maintain a so-called strategic ambiguity.

Daniel Russel, a former senior US diplomat for East Asia now with the Asia Society, said Japan has a lot to weigh when it comes to engaging in an emergency in Taiwan.

“On the one hand, deterring Chinese aggression and defending against relentless incursions into Japanese-controlled waters is a high priority, as is standing by the side of the United States and showing support for Taiwan’s democracy,” did he declare.

“Compensating factors include pacifist domestic politics and legal constraints (and) immense economic interests in China.”

(Reporting by Ju-min Park, David Brunnstrom; Editing by David Dolan and Robert Birsel)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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