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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #262: November 11, 2004

Why U.S., Japan Must Defend Taiwan

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Why U.S., Japan Must Defend Taiwan"
eTaiwan News

Related Article:
"Japan's Sabre Rattling Affronts China's Integrity"


Earlier in the week, Japanese news media reported that in the course of reviewing Japan's national strategy for the future, a committee set up within the Defense Agency had analyzed speculative scenarios of China to attack Japan. The analysis is a part of an internal report within the Defense Agency prepared for further discussions within the agency, so the report has not been made public officially. But the Agency apparently has not intended to keep it a top secret, either.

According to sources, the report says China will "strengthen its military capability in order to demonstrate its capability to Taiwan and the United States, and will be the greatest military power in the Asia-Pacific region in the future."

There are apparently three scenarios discussed in the report. One is the case of a clash between China and Taiwan presumably breaking out in the Taiwan Strait. If that happens, the report assumes China may attack parts of Japan to prevent U.S. forces in Japan from going to assist Taiwan. The second scenario discusses the possibility of China to take military action to seize Japan's Senkaku Islands, where the Chinese (both Beijing and Taipei) are voicing their territorial rights. (The islands are called Diaoyu in Beijing and Tiaoyutais in Taipei.) In the third scenario, China acts illegally to secure its interests in the East China Sea, to settle the dispute over development of gas fields near the boundary of Japan and China.

Beijing, through various media and channels - they are all controlled by the government anyway - responded fiercely against the report and the fact such study was made within an arm of Japan's government. An example of the resentment is amply expressed in the Related Article introduced above by China's official news agency. It condemns Japan by saying, "Such logic full of imaginations is clearly provocative and reveals Tokyo's Cold War mentality," and "It is nothing less than an affront to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Another, the introduced article above at the top is a commentary from Taiwan. It refers to the report by stating, "In the internal report the Japanese Self Defense Agency clearly revealed the concern that China could attack Japan." By acknowledging, that "all three scenarios possess a high degree of realism," the article seemingly intends to fuel the conflict between Japan and China. Then it proposes Japan to cooperate with the US in forming a scheme to defend the Taiwan Strait. Furthermore, the article suggests establishing a close linkage between Japan's Marine SDF and Taiwan's navy to promote security of the region.

It is perfectly understandable for an opinion out of Taiwan to attempt to exploit a gap between Japan and China. It is also true that Japanese people do not want military conflict in the Taiwan Strait. (In fact, Japanese people do not wish for any military conflict anywhere in the world.) From Japan's point of view, however, Japanese SDF working with Taiwanese forces would be a factor of destabilization for the Strait. One other point the article misses is that there is no comment with regard to the Senkaku Islands, where, as explained above, Taiwan also claims it to be theirs. Is Taiwan prepared to concede to the fact that the islands are clearly Japan's?

At the time of this writing, media is filled with reports on the unknown submarine intruding Japanese waters. There is no official announcement from the Japanese government as to the origin and nationality of the submarine while virtually every media reports it to be Chinese. Rather than commenting on speculations, analysis of the circumstances likely to be related to the incident in any case is probably more productive at this point.

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