Page Nav


Gradient Skin



Responsive Ad

A warm welcome for Biden's defense of Taiwan behind the scenes in Japan By Tim Kelly

Images: Reuters Berita 24 English - For Japan, US President Joe Biden's statement that he would be willing to use force to safeguard Tai...

Images: Reuters

Berita 24 English - For Japan, US President Joe Biden's statement that he would be willing to use force to safeguard Taiwan was not a clear policy shift. Behind the scenes in Tokyo, though, it was considered as a welcome warning at a time when concern about China was mounting.

To China's chagrin, Biden's remark on Monday, made during his first Asia visit since entering office, appeared to push the boundaries of the US policy of "strategic ambiguity" regarding self-ruled Taiwan.

While the US has pledged under the Taiwan Relations Act to "assist in providing Taiwan with the ability to defend itself," it has long refused to say how it would respond if China attacked the island.

Biden's adviser later clarified that his remark did not signal a shift in American policy toward the island, which China claims as its own.

Japan officially took a similar stance. Hirokazu Matsuno, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, said on Tuesday that the allies' position on Taiwan had not changed, though he declined to comment on Biden's remark.

However, several senior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) applauded the remark, which was seen as removing doubts about the US's willingness to act in a crisis.

"The comment goes well beyond previous administrations' vague strategy. This will help to keep the Taiwan Straits peaceful and stable "In a blog post, Masahisa Sato, a former deputy defense minister and well-known LDP hawk, remarked.

"Within the party, there is a lot of praise for this."

In a tweet, former Japanese deputy foreign minister Keisuke Suzuki praised Biden's remarks as "extremely significant and relevant."

The protection of Taiwan is crucial, according to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who stood next to Biden as he spoke. China is hemmed in by an island chain that includes Taiwan and Japan. Losing Taiwan would cross that boundary, making Japan vulnerable.

"The most essential goal should continue deterring China from engaging in risky military operations," said Tomohiko Taniguchi, a former adviser to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Biden said his remarks were "welcome to Japan, Taiwan, and the Indo-Pacific region."

The main focus of Biden's tour has been countering China's expanding military and economic influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

According to aides and observers, Trump traveled to Asia to send a clear warning to China: don't try what Russia did in Ukraine elsewhere in Asia, certainly not in Taiwan.

"The US saying it would act in an emergency is not a terrible thing for us," an LDP official who works for a powerful MP told Reuters on condition of anonymity.


Japan's relationship with China, which is both its largest export market and source of imports, is difficult. Although the Japanese government now wants businesses to bring some production back home, Japanese corporations have constructed strong supply chains in China for years.

A Chinese invasion of Taiwan may potentially impede maritime routes used by Japan to transport commodities to most of the rest of the globe, as well as to transfer oil from the Middle East into the world's third largest economy.

"If Taiwan is occupied, our sea lanes are close to Taiwan," said retired admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, who served as chief of the Joint Staff of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces for five years until 2019.

Biden stated that his remark will help prevent China from attacking Taiwan.

Japan's latest annual defense white paper voiced concern over Taiwan, citing a "feeling of crisis" about Taiwan and the threat posed by Chinese soldiers.

In the weeks since Russia's "special operation" strike on Ukraine, Kishida has warned of East Asia's security becoming increasingly precarious.

China has justified its actions surrounding Taiwan as "routine military activity," including regular intrusions by its aircraft into Taiwan's air defense zone.

Taiwan's air force scrambled planes on Friday to scare away 18 Chinese aircraft, according to Taiwan's defence ministry, continuing a trend that has enraged the Taipei government.

As the number of Chinese planes and ships flying near Japan grows, Japan is increasing defense spending, with Kishida's party pressing for it to double to 2% of GDP.

Even yet, it will not be enough to keep up with China's expanding military spending, which is currently nearly five times larger. Because its pacifist constitution prohibits it from fighting foreign wars, Japan has limited itself to short-range weapons for decades.

Because of these limits, Japan will likely rely on its US ally to fight in Taiwan while hosting and supporting the influx of troops, planes, and ships required to defeat China.

Reponsive Ads