Japan plays with fire in its increasingly reckless moves over Taiwan question
Published: Jun 05, 2022 10:53 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Japan is expected to station a serving military staff member on the island of Taiwan for the first time to enhance its intelligence-gathering abilities, Japanese media Sankei Shimbun reported on Saturday. A retired Japanese defense official is currently stationed at the Taipei office of the so-called Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association due to "concerns about a backlash from Beijing," according to the media.

Chinese military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping told the Global Times that no matter the status of the Japanese military officer stationed in Taiwan, it is clear that Tokyo keeps making more and more reckless moves over the Taiwan question.

"Japan has to be warned that if it dares to provoke China and interfere in China's internal affairs, particularly the Taiwan question, it had better get ready to suffer a blow from China. So must Tokyo's accomplice Washington," he warned.

Some analysts in Taiwan claimed that the stationing that will happen as early as this summer marks a structural change in the Japanese government's attitude toward Taiwan. However, Song argues that Tokyo's Taiwan policy remains unchanged, as Japan is still closely following the steps of the US.

For example, Washington has already sent military personnel to Taiwan before to conduct various missions, such as intelligence gathering and military training. Tokyo is now increasing its defense cooperation with the Taiwan region in alignment with Washington's policy.

While increasing defense cooperation with the island of Taiwan, Japan is actually cooperating with the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, using Taiwan as a pawn to contain China and weaken its development.

No matter who is in office, the Japanese government will define its foreign policy, especially toward China, based on its ties with the US. But even in such a close alliance, the priority is still Washington's national interests, resulting in Tokyo possibly becoming another US cannon fodder.

Despite such a risk, some Japanese officials and politicians recently have repeatedly made irresponsible remarks on Taiwan-related issues and colluded with the White House in an attempt to interfere in China's internal affairs. The Kishida administration has also stepped up its military role in its alliance with the US, posing an extremely significant threat to the stable situation across the Straits.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin commented in late May that since Japan bears historical responsibilities to the Chinese people on the Taiwan question, so it should speak and act with extra prudence, earnestly learn lessons from history and avoid repeating past mistakes.

Japan has a particular complex about Taiwan, which was under its colonial rule for half a century, so it is willing to strengthen relations with Taiwan, even if it is not out of the purpose to cooperate with the US' strategy.

Historically, cross-Straits separation has a lot to do with Japan. Tokyo should not forget the history by continuing to bolster the Democratic Progressive Party authority's pro-secession actions, which will only deepen the wounds of the cross-Straits split.

As the Japanese government constantly increases its provocations against China and even tries to meddle in the Taiwan question directly, this might lead to a severe setback in ties between Beijing and Tokyo.

Japan has always viewed China as a vast market and is not willing to give up gaining economic benefits from it. But on the other hand, it follows the US' political agenda to provoke China.

"Cooperating with the US to strengthen the containment of China is also in Japan's interest of hoping China will remain a strong economic partner but not a strong country," said Song.

Japan has always believed that it is emboldened to continue challenging China since the US has its back. For Tokyo, it is an attempt to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, but it should always remember that whoever plays with fire will get burned.