TAIPEI – Japan and the United States have not been able to stop China from harassing Taiwan, and Beijing needs to understand this, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday.
Conflicts over Taiwan in China have escalated as President Xi Jinping seeks to expose allegations of his country’s sovereignty against a democratic island. The Taiwanese government says it wants peace, but will protect itself if needed.
Speaking at a forum hosted by Taiwan’s Institute for National Policy Research, Abe noted the Senkaku Islands – China called the Diaoyu Islands – the islands of Sakishima and the island of Yonaguni 100 kilometers (62 miles) or more from Taiwan.
Taiwan’s armed attack could be a major threat to Japan, he added.
“The Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, so it is an emergency for the Japanese-US alliance. The people of Beijing, especially President Xi Jinping, should never be misunderstood to see this,” Abe said.
Japan has hosted major US military bases, including an island south of Okinawa, a short flight from Taiwan, which would be crucial to any US support during the Chinese invasion.
The United States has been legally bound to provide Taiwan with self-defense measures, although there is speculation that it will send troops to help Taiwan in the war with China.
The United States and its allies could take an unspecified “step” if China could use force to change the status quo over Taiwan, Secretary of State -US State Antony Blinken said last month.
Abe, who stepped down as prime minister last year, is the head of the largest party in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and is still a strong member of the party.
Regarding Sino-Japanese relations going forward, Abe said Japan should improve its relations with China while firmly saying to its great neighbor what to say, echoing the caretaker Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“Japan, Taiwan and all democrats need to continue to urge President Xi Jinping and other Chinese Communist Party leaders not to go the wrong way,” Abe said.
Japan and Taiwan must work together to protect freedom and democracy, added Abe, addressing an audience that included Cheng Wen-tsan, the mayor of northern Taiwan, Taoyuan, who is expected to run for president.
“Strong Taiwan, a prosperous Taiwan, and Taiwan that guarantees freedom and human rights are also in the interests of Japan. Yes, this also benefits the whole world,” Abe said.