TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said Japan wants to see a peaceful resolution of cross-strait tensions in a press conference on Wednesday.
The minister was asked by reporters if Japan’s commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific includes protecting Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. He responded saying Japan will help maintain security for all people and countries in the Indo-Pacific region, which Taiwan is a part of, by guaranteeing freedom of navigation both on the seas and in the air.
Iwaya did not respond directly to questions about whether Japan would assist Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression, but said a peaceful resolution, through both discussion and action, would be the optimal solution for the country. He mentioned both Tokyo and Washington hope to see this in the future.
Iwaya did express Japan’s concern about China using coercive measures to unilaterally change the status quo. The minister commented that such behavior goes against current international norms.
Takeshi Iwaya is on a five-day diplomatic visit to the U.S., where he has met with his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, at the Pentagon building.
The meeting marks the first between the two ministers since Shanahan took office on Jan. 1, replacing former secretary Jim Mattis. It is also the first since Japan outlined a new 10-year defense program in December that will strengthen its alliance with the U.S. against challenges to the regional order from China and Russia.
The Japanese defense minister addressed an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday, where he revealed Japan will aim to up its cybersecurity force to 2,000 members to match the ever-more-powerful online units of other countries, particularly China, according to South China Morning Post. The paper mentions Japan has condemned continuous attacks by a criminal hacker group named “APT10”, who have been accused of acting on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security.