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Japanese defence white paper highlights importance of ‘Taiwanese stability' for Tokyo

Japan has expressed growing concern about the intensification of Chinese military activities around Taiwan and highlighted the importance of the island's stability for Japan's security in the latest defence white paper.

“Stabilising the situation around Taiwan is important for Japan's security and the stability of the international community. Therefore, it is necessary that we pay close attention to the situation with a sense of crisis more than ever before,” stated the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo in its 2021 Defense of Japan White Paper, which was released on 13 July.

This is the first time the MoD has issued such a statement on Taiwan in its defence white papers. The move is also in line with remarks made by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden on 16 April in which they underscored “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”. It also follows a speech made by Japan's deputy prime minister, Taro Aso, on 5 July in which he said that Japan could exercise its right to ‘collective self-defence' in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

The 469 page-long white paper also warned that, as a result of China's increasing military capabilities, changes in the military balance between Washington and Beijing could affect peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

At the same time the MoD accused Beijing of “relentlessly” conducting “coercive” and “unilateral” actions aimed at altering the status quo around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea and expressed concerns over the new China Coast Guard (CCG) law, which authorises the CCG's use of firepower – under certain circumstances – against foreign vessels in waters “under China's jurisdiction”.

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