Fri, Jan 18, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Japan urges peace across Taiwan Strait

THREE PRINCIPLES:To ensure a free Indo-Pacific, Tokyo would pursue cooperation with nations in the region that share its security interests, Japan’s defense minister said

Staff writer, with CNA

Japanese Minister of Defense Takeshi Iwaya speaks to reporters during a meeting with US Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan at the Pentagon in Washington on Wednesday.

Photo: AP

Japan would like to see cross-strait issues resolved through peaceful discussion and action, Japanese Minister of Defense Takeshi Iwaya said in Washington on Wednesday.

Iwaya, who was on his first overseas trip to the US since taking office in October last year, was responding to Taiwanese media inquiries after delivering a speech on Japan’s national defense strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The minister was asked if his work with other like-minded countries to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific” includes Taiwan and whether Japan would come to Taipei’s assistance if China attacked.

Securing freedom of navigation in the area — not just on the seas, but also in the air — is something that would help all countries and all people in the Indo-Pacific region, he said.

Although the minister declined to say whether Japan would help defend Taiwan, he added: “We would like to see a peaceful resolution, peaceful discussions, peaceful actions. Certainly, as with the US, Japan would support such actions.”

According to an English transcript of his speech, Iwaya expressed concern about Chinese actions that seek to unilaterally change the “status quo,” adding that Beijing engages in unilateral, coercive attempts to alter the “status quo” based on its own assertions, which are incompatible with the international order.

“In the East China Sea and other waters, China is expanding and intensifying its military activities at sea and in the air,” it said.

Iwaya also said that Japan’s new National Defense Program Guidelines crystallize three basic principles for national defense.

Alongside strengthening the Japan-US alliance and improving its own posture for national defense, under the vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” Japan would strategically promote international security cooperation with countries that share universal values and security interests, such as Australia, India and Southeast Asian countries, he said.

“The Japan-US alliance will be positioned as a cornerstone in promoting such cooperation,” Iwaya said.

In related news, US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson voiced Washington’s opposition to unilateral action to change the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait.

At a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday with Chinese Central Military Commission Joint Staff Department Chief General Li Zuocheng (李作成), Richardson said that the US remains committed to its “one China” policy based on the Three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, US Navy spokeswoman Jackie Pau said in an e-mailed response to the Central News Agency on Wednesday.

“We are opposed to any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side of the Strait,” Richardson told Li, according to Pau.

Li said that the Taiwan issue is an internal Chinese affair that is of “core interest” to China, related to the “national feelings of the Chinese people” and “allows no external interference,” according to a press statement released on Tuesday by the Chinese Ministry of National Defense.

“If anyone tries to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will do whatever it takes to safeguard national reunification, national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Li said.

Richardson began his visit to China on Sunday at the invitation of Vice Admiral of the Chinese Navy Shen Jinlong (沈金龍).

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