Japan on the front line of Sino-American tensions over Taiwan

Japan at the forefront of Sino-American tensions around Taiwan

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

Japan, a close ally of the United States, but of which China is also the first trading partner, has found itself at the forefront of Sino-American tensions around Taiwan, multiplying calls for an “immediate halt”. of the Beijing military exercises.

Chinese ballistic missile fire around Taiwan, some of which is believed to have fallen into Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is a serious issue that affects our national security and that of our citizens, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday.

We call for an immediate halt to the Chinese military exercises which started on Thursday and are to continue until Sunday, Kishida added after meeting with the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who arrived the night before in Tokyo.

He confirmed that Japan and the United States will continue to coordinate closely to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Ms Pelosi, 82, on her first visit to Japan since 2015, angered China by traveling to Taiwan on Tuesday and Wednesday, Beijing considering this autonomous territory of 23 million inhabitants as an integral part of its territory.

China has begun military exercises on an unprecedented scale around the island, using combat planes and helicopters and firing ballistic missiles, some of which are said to have flown over Taiwan and fallen into the EEZ for the first time. of Japan, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defence.

In Phnom Penh, where he was attending a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi has also called for an immediate halt to Chinese military exercises.

China's actions this time have a serious impact on regional peace and stability, he said. For his part, the Japanese Minister of Defense, Nobuo Kish,i described these exercises as extremely threatening, while certain islands of the department of Okinawa, in the extreme south of Japan, are at only a hundred kilometers from Taiwan.

Japan filed a protest with China through diplomatic channels, Kishi said. He cited the figure of nine Chinese missiles fired, five of which appear to have crashed southwest of the Japanese island of Hateruma.

In Tokyo, Nancy Pelosi assured Friday that her tour was not intended to change the status quo, but that Washington would not allow China to isolate Taiwan.

Through White House strategic affairs spokesman John Kirby, Washington accused Beijing of choosing to overreact to Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.

He warned that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan would continue to monitor the surroundings of the island, while announcing that he had postponed an intercontinental missile test so as not to worsen the crisis.

Chinese military exercises aim to simulate a blockade of Taiwan and include assaulting targets at sea, striking targets on the ground and controlling space aerial, according to the official New China agency.

Already, during a May visit to Japan, US President Joe Biden deeply angered Beijing by claiming that Washington could militarily defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.

Even before this new crisis, leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD, nationalist right in power in Japan), worried about the war in Ukraine and the tensions around Taiwan, said to themselves in favor of doubling the national defense budget to 2% of GDP.

By virtue of its pacifist Constitution which came into force after the Second World War under the American occupation of the country, Japan is not supposed to have a army as such and its military investments are theoretically limited to defensive means.

The United States still maintains military bases in Japan where some 55,000 American military personnel remain stationed, mostly in Okinawa.

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