Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said a show of strength was needed to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait, pushing a hawkish position likely to displease China.
(Bloomberg) — Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said a show of strength was needed to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait, pushing a hawkish position likely to displease China.
Like-minded countries need to communicate so they can deter anyone from disturbing the peace in the region, Aso, a senior member of the ruling party, said in a speech in Taiwan on Tuesday.
The comment was likely aimed at China, which sees democratically run Taiwan as part of its territory that must be united, by force if necessary.
Aso has previously said an invasion of Taiwan by China could be seen as an existential threat to Tokyo. His comments have added to a drumbeat of concern from Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party about Beijing’s intentions toward the island of 23 million people.
During a visit to Taiwan in 2021, Aso said Japan and the US would have to defend the island together in the event of a major problem. The comments were criticized by Beijing as being “extremely wrong and dangerous.”
Taiwan will likely be a focus when current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets President Joe Biden at a summit in the US later this month, along with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has also staked a hawkish position on Taiwan. Biden has also sought the help of Taiwan, Japan and South Korea to use their strength as major makers of semiconductors to cooperate in establishing supply chains that are less reliant on China.
See: Why Taiwan’s Status Risks Igniting a US-China Clash: QuickTake
Japan has sought to avoid alienating China, its biggest trading partner, while maintaining its alliance with the US amid tensions between the world’s two largest economies over topics including the origins of Covid-19, human rights and trade.
Aso has a history of making controversial remarks, including suggesting in 2013 that Japan learn from the Nazis. He later withdrew the comment. In the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, he explained Japan’s relatively low death rate from the disease by saying its people were of a different cultural level.
–With assistance from Sing Yee Ong.
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