Japan cites concern for Taiwan’s stability in first policy roadmap

Japan will double its defense spending over the next five years, according to a policy roadmap released on June 7. The document discusses the need to increase defense capabilities and maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait, where Beijing has strengthened its military presence.

Japan’s cabinet approved the annual fiscal and economic policy roadmap, the first such guidelines issued under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration.

The guidelines state that Japan will increase defense spending to 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP), in reference to the commitment made by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Japan currently spends just over 1% of its GDP on defence.

In a Footnotereported by the Taipei Times, the document stressed “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” and encouraged “the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues”.

It comes after Kishida and President Joe Biden held a summit in Tokyo last month, where they called for a peaceful resolution of issues regarding Taiwan, which China claims to be its own.

The escalation of Chinese military activities in East Asia has heightened Tokyo’s concerns over the self-governing island. Taiwan, along with its Japanese-controlled neighbour, Okinawa, contains Beijing’s forces.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said on May 10 that Chinese fighter jets took off from and landed on an aircraft carrier near Okinawa more than 100 times from May 3 to 7.

Kishi said the activities could be part of an effort to improve China’s ability to operate aircraft carriers and conduct operations in more remote waters and airspace.

“Since these activities are taking place in the sea and airspace near Japan’s Nansei Islands and Taiwan, we need to watch these activities with concern,” he said.

In December 2021, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that an armed invasion of Taiwan would pose a serious threat to Japan, given that the Japanese Senkaku Islands – which China calls the Diaoyu Islands – the Sakishima Islands and the Yonaguni Island is only 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Taiwan.

“An emergency in Taiwan is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japanese-American alliance. The people of Beijing, [Chinese regime leader] Xi Jinping in particular should never have a misunderstanding in recognizing this,” he said, adding that Japan and Taiwan must work together to protect freedom and democracy.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Constitutional Party of Japan and the Ministry of Finance had expressed concern over the planned increase in the defense budget, given that the government may have to obtain an additional 5 trillion yen (7.5 billion of dollars). reported.

The document, which addressed issues ranging from energy security to Kishida’s “new capitalism” economic policy, did not specify how critical a commitment to “significantly boost” defense spending would be.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow

Aldgra Fredly is a Malaysia-based freelance writer covering Asia-Pacific news for The Epoch Times.