Ministry positive about US-Japan security meeting

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Apr 21, 2019 - Page 3

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it would keep a close eye on the regional situation after the US and Japan agreed at a security meeting on Friday to oppose any unilateral action aimed at altering the “status quo” in the East China Sea.

In a statement, the ministry said that it was positive about the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee’s latest session in Washington, because the two countries had focused heavily on regional issues.

The ministry said it would continue to monitor developments in the region after Washington and Tokyo reaffirmed that Article 5 of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Co-operation and Security applies to the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), a disputed group of islets in the East China Sea that are known as the Senkakus in Japan.

Article 5 stipulates that an armed assault on Japan or US troops based in Japan would trigger action by the US, which under the agreement must guarantee the safety of its ally.

The ministry said that as a responsible stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan would work with like-minded countries to continue to serve as a driver of regional peace, stability and prosperity.

The US Department of Defense said on its Web site that the US-Japan alliance has become “the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and remains iron-clad amid an increasingly complex security environment.”

Officials from the US and Japan at the security meeting reportedly expressed their strong opposition to unilateral attempts to change the “status quo” in the South China Sea, which was perceived as a veiled criticism of Beijing’s efforts to build up its military clout in the disputed area.

The US and Japan also vowed that they would strengthen coordination efforts — both bilaterally and multilaterally — to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

The Diaoyutais are administered and controlled by Japan, but also claimed by Taiwan and China. China often dispatches patrol boats to the waters near the Diaoyutais, which has raised alarms in Tokyo.