TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In its "Defense of Japan" white paper published on Tuesday (July 13), Japan's Ministry of Defense (MOD) removed Taiwan from a map of China for the first time.
In previous years, the white paper merged Taiwan and China in the same chapter and map, drawing criticism from Taiwanese living in Japan. However, the latest version stresses the distinction between the two, indicating a change in policy by Japan Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi.
For the first time, Taiwan has been removed from the white paper's chapter on China. Instead, Taiwan has been included in Part I, Chapter 2, Section 3 of "Relations between the United States and China, etc."
Although the focus is on the current situation of deepening U.S.-China antagonism, the introduction to Taiwan's military situation has also been incorporated into this section.
In the past, Taiwan was included as a "region" in a map of China in Part 1, Chapter 2, Section 2 titled, "Deployment and Strength of People's Liberation Army." In the new version, Taiwan is completely grayed out from the map of China and its combat theater commands.
Map from 2020 edition showing Taiwan in pink. ("Defense of Japan" screenshot)
Japan's Defense Ministry stressed in the paper that, "Stabilizing the situation surrounding Taiwan is important for Japan’s security and the stability of the international community." The paper added, “Therefore, it is necessary that we pay close attention to the situation with a sense of crisis more than ever before."
At a press briefing on Tuesday, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) responded to the white paper by complaining that Japan has "grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, groundlessly blamed China’s normal defense construction and military activity, pointed fingers at China’s maritime activity, and hyped up the so-called China threat, which is wrong and irresponsible."
On Wednesday (July 14), Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) welcomed the changes to the white paper by thanking the MOD for "highlighting the importance of 'stabilizing the situation surrounding Taiwan' & paying 'close attention to the situation with a sense of crisis more than ever before.'"
Map from 2021 edition showing Taiwan in gray. ("Defense of Japan" screenshot)