For years, Japan has been silent on the issue of Taiwan and its protection. Concentrating on defending its own territory, Japan has remained uninvolved in the dispute over Taiwan. However, in recent weeks, Japan has been more vocal about this issue stating that if China attacks Taiwan, they will join the US in defending it. This is an important declaration.
“We have to defend Taiwan as a democratic country,” the ministry of defense, Yasuhide Nakamura was quoted as saying. This comes after China stepped up its military activity around Taiwan including sending fighter jets and warships close to the island.
There are also tensions over the dispute about the territory called the Senkaku Islands in Japan and neighboring Diaoyu Islands in China. Japan’s Constitution originally forbade the use of force to resolve international disputes, but after reforms in 2015, the military is allowed to use force if a foreign nation threatens Japan’s security. While the hope is that the disputes will be able to be resolved with peace talks, Japan is getting ready to defend Taiwan with force if need be. Japan’s Defense Ministry stated Japan will monitor the situation closely and the stabilizing the situation is of utmost importance for Japan and its security.
History of Taiwan and China
The root of the tensions between China and Taiwan is that China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will someday be a part of China again.
China largely looks at Taiwan as a part of its territory, much like it has seen Hong Kong internally.
The Taiwanese people feel that they are a separate country and should be independent from China. The island was first recognized in the records of China in AD 239 when an emperor sent forces to explore Taiwan, a fact which Beijing claims makes it their territory. It was administered by the Qing dynasty from 1683 to 1895. When Japan won the first Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the Qing dynasty had to relinquish Taiwan to Japan. Then in World War II, Japan surrendered, and Taiwan went back under China’s control. China ruled Taiwan with the consent of the US and UK.
In the years following, a civil war began in China and the current leader Chiang Kai-shek and what was left of his government fled to Taiwan. Under pressure from the citizens, Chiang’s son began to allow the process of Taiwan becoming a democracy. In the 1980s relations between Taiwan and China began to improve as China promised Taiwan it could be autonomous if it rejoined China. Taiwan rejected the offer but continued to work on its relationship with China and in 1991 declared the was to be over.
However, in 2000, China adopted a no-succession law giving them the right to us non-peaceful means if Taiwan tried to succeed. In 2016, Taiwan’s elected President leads the Democratic Progressive Party which is leaning towards eventual official independence from China. Former President Trump spoke with the Taiwanese President and promised to provide Taiwan weapons should China attack. In 2018, China began pressuring international companies to list Taiwan as part of China on their websites. China has also been showing signs of increasing aggressiveness not only with the presence felt in Taiwan as of late, but also in implementing national security laws in Hong Kong indicating its assertiveness. These actions by China suggest they might be likely to make a move against Taiwan in the near future.
Japan is ready to defend Taiwan against China should it do something to threaten its security. With the long history of strife between Taiwan and China, it is probably that it is only a matter of time until Japan will have to make good on its promises to Taiwan. The US has pledged support to Japan in its endeavors to protect the security of Taiwan.