The ‘Taiwan Emergency’ Is Japan’s Emergency: Authoritarian Regimes Strengthen Alliances Between Democratic Nations

Over 90 percent of Japanese adults believe that Japan should prepare for an emergency response in case Beijing decides to invade Taiwan, according to a recent poll.

According to a May 27–29 poll by Japanese media Nikkei Asia on the issue of how Japan should prepare for a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, 50 percent of respondents said that Japan should do as much as possible within the scope of existing laws; 41 percent said Japan should improve its responsiveness, including revising the country’s constitution as needed. Together, over 90 percent said they believe it is necessary for Japan to make preparations in case of a Taiwan emergency, while 60 percent also expressed support for Japan to possess its own counter-strike capabilities.

In the event of an emergency in Taiwan, Japan may take action in accordance with the provisions of the Peace and Security Law. This law allows the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to provide necessary support activities in a situation that has an important influence on Japan’s peace and security, or threatens international peace and security.

Recently assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had also publicly expressed his support of Taiwan.

In a video conference with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wenu0 on March 22, Abe said: “Last year, at a seminar held by a Taiwan think tank, I said that if Taiwan has a problem, then Japan has a problem, and the Japan-U.S. alliance also has a problem. Of course, this was a way of expressing my own sense of urgency, and I myself advocated for the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

3 Reasons Japan Wants to Help Taiwan

What need does Japan have to support Taiwan?

In an interview with The Epoch Times on June 1, Su Tzu-yun, associate research fellow at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said there are three main reasons.

The first reason is the need to defend the common value of democracy because the democratic systems are currently threatened by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) authoritarian regime. It is apparent that the CCP is attempting to expand its authoritarian rule, Su said.

The CCP manipulates, he said, by “using democratic means to destroy democracy, and freedom of speech to destroy the freedom of speech.”

“Just as former U.S. President Donald Trump had said, the CCP destroys free trade through free trade; in other words, through unfair competition. Therefore, these evil conducts of the CCP are in the same line, regardless of the economical, political, or military aspects,” he added, saying that the CCP has been infiltrating major democratic countries worldwide, including in the European Union, the United States, and Australia.

Additionally, the CCP is exporting its model of digital authoritarianism, such as exporting surveillance technology to some monarchies in the Middle East, which is concerning to democratic countries, Su said.

Moreover, the CCP acts as irresponsibly as a member of the international community, he added. “It wants to subvert the stability of the rules-based international society by creating another set of rules.

“When the United States invited China to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), it originally hoped that the CCP would carry out political reforms after China’s economy had improved,” Su said. “Instead of embarking on the right path, it went the other way, deviating farther and farther away from democracy, now posing a threat to human civilization.”

He explained: “My observation is, this is not merely a Taiwan Strait issue, nor is it a so-called reunification issue at all. The Taiwan Strait issue is a competition between democracy and authoritarianism, and that is the key.”

According to Su, “the second reason for Japan’s support of Taiwan is for reasons of national security. This includes 76 percent of its natural gas and 90 percent of Japan’s crude oil shipments that rely on access via the South China Sea. Japanese exports to Europe rely entirely on access through the South China Sea.”

“That is why Japan’s political elites believe that ‘if Taiwan has a problem, then Japan has a problem.’ Its ‘maritime lifeline’ is really dependent on Taiwan being secure.”

Su added that he believes the CCP’s military expansionism is another reason for Japan to support Taiwan.

“The CCP has become a real threat to world peace, because it is obsessed with military expansion, thinking that only military expansions will guarantee national security,” according to Su.

The democratic camp has now formed a stronger alliance under the threat of CCP expansion.

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a very good analogy. He has achieved what neither Trump nor Biden have, which is to unite all of NATO,” Su explained.

Relaxing Export Controls on Defense Equipment

A May 28 article from The Japan Times revealed that the Japanese government is discussing a relaxation of export control measures related to defense equipment. The hope is to strengthen allied cooperation against the CCP.

In 2014, Japan established what it calls the “Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology” as the first step to ease the arms export ban, while the prohibition on the export of lethal weapons remained.

According to these principles, exports to countries that do not jointly develop arms with Japan are limited to equipment for rescue, transport, warning, surveillance, and minesweeping missions.

Su told The Epoch Times that there is currently no direct military cooperation between Taiwan and Japan. Assuming that Japan eventually eases its export rules, Taiwan may consider purchasing submarines from Japan.

“The performance of Japan’s submarines is superb, and they will be a very important defense tool for Taiwan in fighting this asymmetrical warfare [with the CCP],” he said.

“The second category for Taiwan to consider is electronic warfare equipment, as Japan’s electronic technology is also very advanced,” Su continued. “[And] there is another cooperation that is relatively easy to achieve in the short term—that is strategic intelligence cooperation.”

Su believes that Taiwan and Japan may get started with an alliance centered around developing joint economic security first, before proceeding with a military alliance.

“This is because we want to make sure the bilateral cooperation is set on a solid and steady ground,” he said.

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