TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. and Japan are reportedly conducting secret war games in preparation for a potential military confrontation with China over Taiwan.
The Financial Times on Thursday (July 1) cited six sources as saying that the U.S. and Japan started preparing contingencies for a conflict with China since the last year of the Trump administration. This planning reportedly involves "top-secret tabletop war games and joint exercises in the South China and East China seas."
In the face of increased threats from China in 2019, Abe Shinzo expanded military training, and in 2020 war games and joint military training between the U.S. and Japan were stepped up by the Trump administration. The newspaper cited three sources as saying that this cooperation between the militaries of the two nations has continued under the Biden and Suga administrations.
As the two countries started to converge on planning for a potential war with China, the Pentagon reportedly balked at revealing its "Taiwan war plan" to Japan, preferring to strengthen joint planning in phases. The ultimate goal is to create an "integrated war plan for Taiwan," according to a former official.
Two sources stated that disaster relief training in the South China Sea was used as cover for joint military exercises between the U.S. and Japanese forces. There have also been military maneuvers held around the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku Islands), which are claimed by Japan, China, and Taiwan.
Former Pentagon official Randy Schriver told the newspaper that the exercises are "highly fungible." He explained that this means that drills officially used for disaster relief preparations could be applicable to warfare, such as amphibious landings.
According to the report, the U.S. and Japan are working on sorting out all the different aspects that need to be coordinated if China were to launch an attack on U.S. bases in Japan, including legal issues and logistics. One source pointed out that the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan need to set up a three-way information-sharing mechanism.
For example, the official suggested that Japanese intelligence about Chinese military movements in the Miyako Strait could be combined with that from Taiwan. The source observed that currently, such data is shared to some extent between Taiwan and the U.S. and Japan and the U.S., but the three are currently not yet coordinating together.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck was quoted by the newspaper as saying "The Japanese government has increasingly recognised, and even acknowledges publicly, that the defence of Taiwan equates to the defence of Japan." During a talk at the Hudson Institute on Monday (June 28), Japan's State Minister of Defence Nakayama Yasuhide stressed that Japan is "family with Taiwan" and that if something happened to Taiwan, it would directly impact Japan's Okinawa Prefecture.
He said that China under Xi has very "aggressive thoughts and will." Nakayama called on the alliance to "wake up" and prepare for provocative military actions by the PLA around Taiwan.