Government officials and former diplomats stationed in Taiwan and Japan yesterday welcomed the latest joint statement between the US and Japan centered on enhancing cooperation in the military and security.
US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minster Yoshihiko Noda signed the joint statement on Monday after their talks at the White House in Washington amid growing concerns over China’s military buildup and strains on the Korean Peninsula.
“Taiwan very much welcomes and supports the joint statement. It is a milestone on the road to peaceful development in East Asia. It is also a long-awaited development,” Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Philip Yang (楊永明) said yesterday while attending a forum in Taipei on Taiwan-Japan relations since the two severed diplomatic relations in 1972.
“From the perspective of Taiwan, I think the joint statement will help stabilize the balance of power in East Asia,” Yang said.
In tandem with its efforts to improve relations with Beijing, Taiwan also hopes to enhance its relationships with other major allies, such as the US and Japan, in every field, Yang said.
Tadashi Ikeda, a former Japanese representative to Taiwan who now serves as an adviser to the Interchange Association, Japan, said on the sidelines of the forum that the statement has a positive significance for both the US and Japan.
Enhancing the US-Japan alliance has been the “pillar” of Japan’s foreign policy, while the signing of the statement would also benefit the US’ strategic shift toward Asia, he said.
Former Taiwanese envoy to Japan Lo Fu-chen (羅福全) said the statement reaffirmed the military “dissuasion strategy” adopted by Washington and Tokyo in response to Beijing’s growing assertive posture in its disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights.
The US and Japan consider Taiwan a supporter of the strategy since the two countries declared in a joint statement in 2005 that easing tensions in the Taiwan Strait was their “common strategic objective,” Lo said.
Lo said concerns have arisen in Washington and Tokyo regarding the role Taiwan plays in the US-Japan alliance because President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) cross-strait policy could disrupt the “status quo,” as exemplified in the “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” concept.
The Japanese fail to understand why the Ma administration proposed “one country, two areas,” since it has already advocated the so-called “1992 consensus” and they are worried about Ma’s intention to change the cross-strait “status quo,” Lo said.
Asked about the “one country, two areas” concept, Ikeda said Tokyo is concerned about how the notion is interpreted by the Taiwanese government, adding that it is aware that supporters of the formula say it is an offshoot of the Republic of China Constitution, while those opposed see it as downgrading Taiwan’s status to what Hong Kong is to China under the “one country, two systems” formula.