Japan sounds alarm over Ukraine and Taiwan

Tokyo’s annual defense white paper has raised concerns over growing ties between China and Russia

Japan sees an increasing amount of global and regional security risks tied to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the tension around Taiwan, according to the country’s new defense white paper. Tokyo is also concerned about the relationship developing between Moscow and Beijing, the document says.

“Russia has made moves to strengthen cooperation with China, such as through joint bomber flights and joint warship sails involving the Russian and Chinese militaries, as well as moves to portray such military cooperation as ‘strategic coordination’,” the white paper, unveiled on Friday, reads.

Tokyo warned that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine ran the risk of sending the message “that unilateral changes to the status quo by force are acceptable.” The paper also linked the ongoing hostilities to tension surrounding Taiwan, noting that “since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan has been working on further strengthening its self-defense efforts.”

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The document squarely accused Beijing – which regards the island nation as an integral part of China – of seeking to “change the status quo by coercion in the East China Sea and South China Sea.”

“The country’s ties with Russia … have deepened in recent years, with joint navigations and flights being conducted in the areas surrounding Japan by both Chinese and Russian vessels and aircraft. China has made clear that it would not hesitate to unify Taiwan by force, further increasing tensions in the region,” Tokyo asserted.

Japan’s take has been harshly criticized by China, which accused Tokyo of making baseless “accusations” and “smearing” its defense policies. “Japan’s new defense white paper makes accusations and smears China’s defense policy, market economic development and legitimate maritime activities,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

The white paper “exaggerates the so-called China threat” and interferes in China’s internal affairs over Taiwan, the official said.

China has expressed its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to this, and has lodged stern representations to the Japanese side about this.

China has repeatedly discouraged foreign nations from cozying up to Taiwan, warning that doing so constitutes meddling into the country’s affairs. The island has been de facto self-governed since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, when the defeated nationalists fled there.

Tensions around the island spiked earlier this week, when the Financial Times reported that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was set to visit Taiwan next month.

While Washington maintains close ties with the island nation, the contacts remain unofficial and Pelosi would become the most senior US lawmaker to set foot on Taiwanese soil in decades. The anticipated visit prompted an angry reaction from Beijing, which vowed to take “resolute and strong measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity” should the US continue “going down the wrong path.”

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