Japanese State Minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama on Monday warned of a growing threat posed by Chinese and Russian collaboration, and said it was necessary to “wake up” to Beijing’s pressure on Taiwan and protect it “as a democratic country.”
Speaking to the Hudson Institute think tank, Nakayama questioned whether the decision of many countries, including Japan and US, to follow a “one China” policy that has recognized Beijing over Taipei since the 1970s would stand the test of time.
“Was it right?” he asked at the online event, referring to how future generations would judge policymakers on the issue. “I don’t know.”
Democratic countries have to protect each other, he said, adding that he had in the past referred to Taiwan as a “red line.”
“So we have to protect Taiwan as a democratic country,” he said.
Japan and Taiwan are geographically close, and if something happened in Taiwan, it would affect Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, where US forces and their families are based, he said.
“We are not friends of Taiwan, we are brothers,” he said.
Nakayama highlighted growing threats posed by China in space, in missile technology, in the cyberdomain, and in nuclear and conventional forces, and said that under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) leadership, it had “aggressive, aggressive ... thought and will.”
“So wake up. We have to wake up,” he said.
Nakayama’s comments drew an angry response from Beijing, with Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) saying: “We deplore the erroneous remarks by the senior official of the Japanese government, and we have lodged solemn representations.”
Nakayama had “falsely accused” China over “normal national defense developments,” he told a regular media briefing.
“This is highly sinister, dangerous and irresponsible. This politician also openly called Taiwan a country, in serious violation of the China-Japan joint statement,” he said.
“We urge the Japanese government to make a clarification and ensure this will not happen again,” he said.
Nakayama said it was necessary to show deterrence to China as well as Russia, which had stepped up exercises in Japanese-claimed territory and near Hawaii.
“You can see China and Russia collaborating together, when they are doing some military exercise around our neighbors,” Nakayama said, adding that he wanted to see the US “stronger, stronger and stronger.”
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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