Taiwan Crisis May Threaten Existence of Japan: LDP’s Taro Aso

Yomiuri Shimbun file photos
LDP Vice President Taro Aso

WASHINGTON (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government may regard a possible contingency in Taiwan as a situation threatening the existence of Japan, Taro Aso, vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

Aso, who previously served as prime minister, thus suggested that Japan may exercise the right of collective self-defense based on the country’s national security legislation, enacted in 2015, in the event of a Taiwan crisis. He called for strengthening deterrence to prevent an armed invasion by China.

Amid rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait and ahead of Taiwan’s presidential election Saturday, Aso made these remarks apparently to keep a check on China, which is intimidating Taiwan.

In a speech at the U.S. Congress the same day, Aso said that Taiwan’s next leader who would succeed outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen should be mentally strong and have a desire to maintain Taiwan’s self-reliance, referring to the upcoming election.

Still, he said that self-reliance does not mean international independence, showing consideration for China’s “One China” principle.

Speaking to reporters, Aso described former U.S. President Donald Trump, who is leading the Republican nomination race in the U.S. presidential election in November, as a unique person. He stopped short of making further comments on the presidential race.

Aso is visiting the United States at the invitation of a think tank. He is believed to have exchanged opinions with senior U.S. government officials on a planned U.S. visit in March by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the U.S. presidential election.