Private gains, US' incitement prompt Japanese lawmakers to inflame Taiwan Straits tensions
Published: Aug 17, 2022 09:18 PM
Illustration: Vitaly Podvitski

Illustration: Vitaly Podvitski

After the recent provocative Taiwan visits by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several US Congress members, it seems some Japanese lawmakers, following the lead of Washington, have participated in the "relay race" of provocations against China. Several Japanese lawmakers, including Keiji Furuya, the head of a pro-Taiwan Japanese parliamentarian group called the "Japan-ROC Diet Members' Consultative Council" (also known as "Nikkakon"), plan to visit the island of Taiwan next week, Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported Tuesday.

In the past few years, guided by Washington, many Japanese politicians have taken increasingly intense and reckless actions over the Taiwan question. However, as the situation in the Taiwan Straits tenses up, the planned visit of the Nikkakon delegation has a particular impact. The event will take place right after the Taiwan trip made by a US congressional delegation, highlighting that Japan is slavishly imitating and blindly following the steps of the US. Just like those US lawmakers who recently visited the island of Taiwan, the Japanese politicians who plan to do the same thing, in fact, seek to advance more political interests for themselves at the cost of stirring up trouble in the  Taiwan Straits.

As a pro-Taiwan group in the Japanese Diet, the Nikkakon is home to many key players in provoking the Chinese mainland on the Taiwan question and pushing for enhancing the relationship between Japan and Taiwan island. This includes the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was the group's top advisor.

Wang Guangtao, an associated research fellow at the Center for Japanese Studies at Fudan University, pointed out that even though Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida should be aware of the planned Taiwan visit of the Nikkakon delegation, he is unlikely to stop the trip. This reflects that the Japanese government has to cater to the political correctness in the Japanese political circle of "using Taiwan to contain China" by conniving in the trip.

The communication between Japanese lawmakers and Taiwan politicians is a critical channel for maintaining their relationship. But both sides have touted the channel as a kind of "parliamentary diplomacy," which is actually a bit self-deceptive. Such "parliamentary diplomacy" has become a lever for developing their "ties" just because it is relatively less political and sensitive. However, the interaction between Japanese lawmakers and Taiwan authorities is a severe violation of the one-China principle.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic ties and the 50th anniversary of the severing of "official relations" between Japan and Taiwan authorities. Wang believes that at such an important time, Japan and the island of Taiwan might intentionally use "parliamentary diplomacy" to break through the current barriers to their relations, or even try to undermine the one-China principle gradually. 

The visit of Japanese lawmakers is undoubtedly adding fuel to the current tensions in the Taiwan Straits. China will obviously take countermeasures, because if such a trend cannot be stopped, more and more politicians from Japan, the US and other US' allies will follow suit, putting the relations of their countries with China, as well as regional peace and security, in danger.

In the view of US politicians, Japan's support of the US can exert greater pressure on China, while sending a signal of appeasement to the Taiwan authorities and wishing for rewards from them. Therefore, the US hawks are definitely willing to see a high-level delegation of Japanese lawmakers follow their US counterparts to visit Taiwan. 

However, the US hawks are well aware that Japan would not dare to challenge the one-China principle by sending any government official or cabinet member. They know in their hearts that it's impossible to expect Tokyo to spearhead the provocation against China and become Washington's cannon fodder. Their hopes will certainly end up as a pipe dream.