For the mainland Chinese regime, Taiwan is a renegade province that rightfully belongs to the communist People’s Republic. Though Beijing has indicated its preference for a peaceful “unification,” it does not rule out military force, as the near-constant sorties by mainland fighter jets make clear.
Balancing this out is support for Taiwan — formally known as the Republic of China (ROC) — from the U.S. and Japan. According to the latest reports, Japan is cooperating with Washington to plan for the island’s protection in the event of an armed invasion.
Sources from Tokyo revealed to Kyodo News that the proposed joint operation plan between the two nations will allow for establishing an attack base along Japan’s Nansei island chain in the southwest.
The island chain, which comprises roughly 200 islands, stretches from Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures to Taiwan. Both parties have identified 40 potential island sites to implement the plan. Okinawa is also the home of a U.S. military base.
In case of any emergency in Taiwan, Japan’s Self Defense Forces (SDF) will provide support to U.S. troops. The plan is expected to be formalized when the defense and foreign ministers of the two countries meet next month.
According to Kyodo News, “The condition under which the U.S. military will set up a temporary base is when the Japanese government judges that conflict between the communist Chinese and ROC militaries will undermine the peace and security of Japan, if left as is… In such a scenario, the U.S. military will deploy its high mobility artillery rocket system to a temporary base location while the SDF will be tasked with logistical support by providing ammunition and fuel.”
The joint plan comes as relations between Washington and Beijing have been worsening over multiple issues like trade, human rights, IP protection, COVID-19, and so on. Ties between Tokyo and Beijing are also cold due to conflict over the Senkaku islands, which are under the control of Japan but also claimed by mainland China. At an event earlier this month, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had warned that any emergency in Taiwan will be an emergency for both Washington and Tokyo as well.
A spokesperson from the Pentagon pointed out that the U.S. and Japan share a “strong commitment” to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. “We are committed to enhancing resiliency and interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces and deepening operational cooperation during peacetime and various regional contingencies,” the Pentagon told Reuters.
Amid concerns regarding Taiwan, Japan has approved a record military budget for 2022. At 5.4 trillion yen (US$47 billion), the budget is a 1.1 percent increase from the current budget and is the tenth consecutive rise in military spending for the nation. Japan allocated 291 billion yen (US$2.55 billion) for defense-related research and development, up by 38 percent when compared to this year. 128 billion yen (US$1.1 billion) is set aside for buying F-35 stealth fighters.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from both Japan and Taiwan have agreed on an “all round cooperation” with regard to semiconductors. They also decided to hold regular talks.
“We need to do our utmost in tackling the shortage of semiconductors at the moment, but realms of cooperation should expand as we go forward… One of the major challenges will be how the three countries (including the U.S.) join hands in response to China’s high-tech investments,” Akimasa Ishikawa, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker who participated in the meeting, told reporters.
TSMC, a major semiconductor manufacturer from Taiwan, announced last month that it will develop a $7 billion chip plant in Japan in cooperation with the Sony Group.