TAIPEI: Japan and the United States could not stand by if China attacked Taiwan, and Beijing needs to understand this, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday (Dec 1).
Tensions over Taiwan have risen as President Xi Jinping seeks to assert his country's sovereignty claims against the island. Taiwan's government says it wants peace, but will defend itself if needed.
Speaking virtually to a forum organised by Taiwanese think tank the Institute for National Policy Research, Abe noted the Senkaku islands – which China calls the Diaoyu Islands – Sakishima islands and Yonaguni island are a mere 100km or so away from Taiwan.
An armed invasion of Taiwan would be a grave danger to Japan, he added.
"A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-US alliance. People in Beijing, President Xi in particular, should never have a misunderstanding in recognising this," Abe said.
Japan is host to major US military bases, including on the southern island of Okinawa, a short flight from Taiwan, which would be crucial for any US support during a Chinese attack.
The United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, though there is ambiguity about whether it would send forces to help Taiwan in a war with China.