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Japan is preparing amidst political tensions in the Indo-Pacific region to defend itself from the growing advance of the Chinese regime, after the Communist Party undermined freedom in Hong Kong.
Japan’s deputy defense minister, Yasuhide Nakayama, told Reuters that “we are concerned that China will extend its aggressive stance to areas other than Hong Kong.” He added that “one of the next targets is Taiwan and of course Japan.”
In addition to Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Taiwan, Beijing wants to occupy Japanese territories. China claims the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, a group of eight islands in Japanese territory with great economic importance for fishing and potential hydrocarbon deposits.
The treaties signed by the United States with Asian countries on security matters are fundamental to maintain stability in the region. With Tokyo, for example, the agreements oblige Washington to defend Japan as if it were U.S. territory.
However, Nakayama added to Reuters that “so far, I have not seen a clear policy or announcement on Taiwan from President-elect Joe Biden,” and insisted that a concrete policy will pave the way for Tokyo to act in concert with the United States.
Taiwan is relevant to Japan’s security not only because of its geographical proximity, but because it represents a “red line in Asia,” according to Nakayama. An eventual Chinese Communist Party occupation of Taiwan would necessarily involve the Taiwanese allies and, unlike the Trump Administration, it is not clear what the U.S. role would be under the Biden administration, according to the press.
Trump’s strong support for Japan against the Chinese Communist Party
The Trump administration strengthened the United States in Asia. The U.S. has increased investment and expanded agreements with its partners in the region. While trade sanctions against China have had negative consequences on the Japanese economy, Trump’s security support for containing the Chinese advance is strong.
Secretary Mike Pompeo included the Senkaku Islands dispute as one of the areas in the Indo Pacific region where China is “instigating territorial disputes” as part of a pattern of “bullying” its Asian neighbors.
The press reported that on islands around Okinawa, Japan, 400 kilometers from the Senkaku Islands, the United States “participated in military exercises last October 2020 with 9,000 troops, an aircraft carrier group and more than 100 military aircraft.” In addition, it is planning other exercises with the participation of France and the United Kingdom, which has provoked unrest in Beijing, which constantly accuses the United States of being involved in the internal affairs of other nations.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has supported the “free and open Indo Pacific” policy promoted by the Trump government in Asia. On one of Pompeo’s visits to Japan, Suga reaffirmed defense ties with India and Australia, which together with the United States and Japan are known as “the Quad”.
It should be remembered that the Quad represents the commitment of Australia, India, Japan and the United States to combat the advance of the Chinese Communist Party in the Pacific. During his visit to Japan, Pompeo described the Quad as the defense of democratic values for the Indo-Pacific region.
The Trump administration has also worked closely with Japan on the development of a reliable internet. As part of the so-called Clean Network, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi declared Japan’s interest in “deepening cooperation with the United States in the development of cyber security” and reiterated that Tokyo supports the “basic concept of the 5G Clean Path Initiative to ensure secure communication between diplomatic facilities.”
The United States, led by Trump, approached its partners in the development of a reliable Internet network through the Clean Network program to go against Chinese 5G technology and Internet companies that violate human rights and national security. The United Kingdom, the European Union, South Korea, and Brazil, among others, have also joined this effort.
The Japanese government’s concerns have been maintained for more than a decade, when the Chinese Communist leader Xi Jinping came to power in Beijing. China’s agenda at the head of Jinping has been aggressive in reclaiming territories and forging what for the Communist Party is one China.
Camilo Bello is a consultant focused on Asia Pacific studies and has experience in strategic management. He has studied law in Colombia and is currently pursuing studies in language and history at National Taiwan Normal University. He has collaborated with Students for Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan // Camilo es consultor enfocado en estudios de Asia Pacífico y experiencia en gestión estratégica. Cuenta con estudios en Derecho en Colombia y actualmente se encuentra realizando estudios en lenguaje e historia en National Taiwan Normal University. Colaborador de Estudiantes por la Libertad en Hong Kong y Taiwán