Japan has promised to join the United States in defense of Taiwan if China decides to invade the sovereign nation, asserting that “Okinawa could be next.”
On Monday, Deputy prime minister Taro Aso said China moving into Taiwan could present an imminent threat to the Japanese city of Okinawa, Kyodo News Agency reported.
“If a major problem took place in Taiwan, it would not be too much to say that it could relate to a survival-threatening situation [for Japan],” Aso said at a fundraising party, quoted by Kyodo. “We need to think hard that Okinawa could be the next.”
According to Reuters, a “survival-threatening situation” refers to an armed attack against a country with a close relationship to Japan that causes Japan’s survival as a nation to be at risk.
Beijing shot back at Aso’s remarks, with China foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian saying Aso “harmed the political foundation of China-Japan relations” and that China “resolutely opposed” his comments.
“No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s staunch resolve, firm will, and formidable ability to defend national sovereignty,” he said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato declined to comment on Aso’s remarks but said Japan is hopeful the Taiwan conflict will be resolved peacefully.
“Japan hopes the Taiwan issue will be resolved through direct dialogue between parties concerned in a peaceful manner. That has been our consistent stance,” Kato said.
On Wednesday, an op-ed published in China’s state-run publication Global Times threatened Japan, saying it would be “digging its own grave” if the nation involved itself in the Taiwan issue.
“But it needs to be clarified that, first of all, Japan does not dare to confront China alone. If Japan involves itself in the Taiwan question militarily, it will be Japan digging its own grave,” Song Zhongping wrote. “Japan’s military capability is completely restrained by the US and does not have an independent combat capability. It is easy for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to paralyze the attack capability of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.”
“Japan itself is powerless against the Chinese military,” the article warned.
Taiwan is a self-governing island off the coast of China, but the Chinese Communist Party says the sovereign nation will eventually come under its control through force if necessary. Last month, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said the island nation needs to prepare for a military conflict with China.
Wu told CNN, “As Taiwan decision-makers, we cannot take any chances, we have to be prepared. When the Chinese government is saying they would not renounce the use of force, and they conduct military exercises around Taiwan, we would rather believe that it is real.”