Japan-China joint poll: Half see Taiwan contingency as likely

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A drill is conducted in anticipation of a military conflict in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, in March.

Some 44.5% of respondents in Japan and 56.7% in China believe a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait is likely “within a few years” or “in the future,” a recent Japan-China joint public opinion poll has found.

The poll results were released Wednesday by Japanese research institute The Genron NPO, among other entities.

China has not ruled out the possibility of unifying Taiwan by force, and there are concerns over a potential U.S.-China clash if Washington intervenes militarily to defend Taiwan — a scenario that could affect Japan.

“China possesses a large number of various missiles with a range of over 500 kilometers, and in the event of a contingency in and around Taiwan, the entire East China Sea would become a war zone,” said former Maritime Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Tomohisa Takei, who also held a professorship at the U.S. Naval War College.

“Japan relies on foreign countries for most of its energy resources, including crude oil,” Takei added. “Taiwan is a key strategic point for sea traffic, and if a conflict occurs and the surrounding straits become blocked, it will have an enormous impact on the Japanese economy.”