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Japan to further deepen ties with Taiwan under new leader

"Taiwan is an extremely crucial partner and an important friend" of Japan as they share "fundamental values" and enjoy "close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges," Kamikawa said. (AFP)
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14 Jan 2024 09:01:57 GMT9
14 Jan 2024 09:01:57 GMT9

Tokyo: Japan will work to further deepen its cooperation and exchanges with Taiwan after the self-governing island elected its new leader on Saturday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa has said in a statement.

The top Japanese diplomat issued the statement Saturday night after Lai Ching-te, currently Taiwan’s vice president from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, won the presidential election.

“Taiwan is an extremely crucial partner and an important friend” of Japan as they share “fundamental values” and enjoy “close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges,” Kamikawa said.

She expressed hope that “the issue surrounding Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through dialogue.”

The Japanese government was closely watching the Taiwanese presidential election because of its potential impact on the situation in East Asia. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida repeatedly said that the election could be a turning point for the next decade.

Lai is known for his pro-Japanese stance and has frequently visited Japan. In July 2022, he attended the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Lai’s election as Taiwan’s president “will lead to even stronger ties” between Japan and Taiwan, a former cabinet minister from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party told Jiji Press.

The Japanese government respects the “One China” principle, but it apparently did not want to see the pro-China opposition Kuomintang party return to power in Taiwan.

Lai’s stance of continuing incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen’s policy on China is increasingly received well in Japan. The new leader “is expected to take the approach of keeping China in check through cooperation with Japan and the United States, with whom (Taiwan) shares values,” a veteran LDP member said.

The Japanese ruling party has been deepening its ties with Lai, including through a Taiwan visit by LDP Vice President Taro Aso in August last year. Other officials including former party policy chief Koichi Hagiuda also visited Taiwan over the past year or so. It plans to continue to strengthen the ties.

Meanwhile, some are concerned that the continuation of the DPP government in Taiwan could escalate tensions across the Taiwan Strait. China has increased military pressure on Taiwan during Tsai’s tenure. “China could now expand military activities,” said a Japanese government official. “It may take a step to escalate tensions.”

As for Japan’s response to a possible Taiwan crisis, the LDP’s Aso earlier this month mentioned the possibility of Japan exercising its collective self-defense right under the country’s national security legislation. 

Since becoming prime minister, Kishida has confirmed with U.S. and other foreign leaders that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is important, sending a warning to the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kishida plans to continue promoting this view to the international community.

JIJI Press

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