In the absence of diplomatic relations, Japan and Taiwan maintain
non-governmental, working-level contacts through the offices, for Japan, of
the Interchange Association and, for Taiwan, of the East Asia Relations
Commission. Japan has a branch office of the Interchange Association of
Japan in Taipei and Taiwan the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative
Office (TECRO) in Tokyo.
Both offices operates in the capacities of embassy, but, while the
Taiwanese office belongs to the de facto foreign ministry in Taiwan, the
Japanese counterpart is a mere private organization classified as a public
utility foundation whose functions are limited to immigration of personnel,
ships and aircraft; residence, finance, investment and other such matters
related to national sovereignty. All intergovernmental contacts are under
restrictions by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Without the like of the Taiwan Relations Act of the United States, Japan
barely maintains contacts with Taiwan on an extremely shaky footing, quite
obviously excluding the area of security.
This, in essence, is a waiver from diplomacy on the part of Japan. Japan
cannot evade the charge of irresponsibility as a nation and all this is due
to the absence of a legal basis on which to carry on interchange with
What predicament will possibly ensue in the absence of a legal basis? At
worst, the Japan-Taiwan relations can suffocate as Japan overreacts to
mounting pressures from China.
China has grown to be a major menace to the peace and stability in the
Pacific region, having invested large portions of profits brought about by
its rapid economic growths in recent years, strategically targeting the
East and South China Seas they prefer to call the “Sea of China” on way
to furthering their military powers into the Pacific Ocean.
Meanwhile, the defense of the Ryukyu Arc (South West Islands) remains the
most essential of tasks to deter China’s intent. Let it not be overlooked
that Taiwan, situated as it is at the southern tip of the arc, is the key
to Japan’s China strategy.
Under such circumstances Primer Minister Abe proclaimed on January 18 this
year Five Principles for Japan’s diplomacy professing further
strengthening of the Japan-US Alliance and the importance of the rule of
law and his government’s intent to restrain China’s advance into the
The Five Diplomatic Principles profess to:
1. Promote freedom, democracy, human rights and other universal values;
2. Ensure that the seas, which are the most vital of common assets to us
all, be controlled not by might but the rule of law and welcome the United
States rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region;
3. Pursue free and open economies to stimulate flows of trade and
investment towards achieving mutual prosperity of Japan and other ASEAN
4. Promote intercultural ties;
5. Encourage exchange among the younger generations upon whom rests the
future of our nations.
Prime Minister Abe’s diplomatic and security policy is built on firm
commitment to the Japan-US Alliance, whereupon to cooperate with the ASEAN
nations sharing the common sense of values to check China’s
self-righteous behaviors, towards ensuring peace and stability in the
It is important that, though no direct reference is made in any part of the
Five Principles, nothing ever works out with Taiwan left in the dark.
In his congratulatory message to the January issue of the
“Interchange”, the information magazine on Taiwan of the Interchange
Association of Japan, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan congratulated
the association’s 40th anniversary and made it categorically clear that
Taiwan is Japan’s vital partner bound by close economic ties and personal
exchanges. He further stated that both nations are closely tied by a strong
bondage of friendship to suggest that Prime Minister Abe’s new Five
Diplomatic Principles is compatible with his regime’s Taiwan policy.
Taiwan is a genuine democracy that shares with Japan the common basic sense
of values – freedom, human rights, the rule of law and what not; an
overwhelming majority of the Taiwanese wish to maintain the status quo
independent of the People’s Republic of China. It is unmistakably in the
interests of Japan that Taiwan continues to rest on the foundation of
freedom and democracy; any attempt to forcibly alter the status quo of
Taiwan against the will of the people of Taiwan must be resolutely
There is one important point to keep in mind when one tries to appreciate
the strategic values of Taiwan. That is, peace and stability in the waters
surrounding Taiwan is essential not only for Japan to ensure safety over
its sea lane but also for the United States to maintain credibility of its
nuclear umbrella to deter China’s attempt to deploy missile submarines in
the South Asia Sea as a definite deterrence of US threats. None of these is
feasible without Taiwan’s cooperation.
The key to peace, security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and to
Japan’s own security is how to materialize and strengthen full
cooperation between the Japan-US Alliance and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the United States installed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, on
terminating governmental relations with Taiwan, to provide a legal basis
for continued diplomatic contacts with Taiwan. In the Act the United States
declared in writing that “peace and stability in the area are in the
political, security and economic interests of the United States, and are
matters of international concern” (Article 2) and stipulated “to
provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character” (Article 2-5) and to
take due action should an emergency arise in Taiwan (Article 2-b).
The US presence in the Asia-Pacific region based on the Japan-US Alliance
ensures peace and stability in the region. The Taiwan Relations Act makes
Taiwan a virtual ally of the United States; it indirectly puts Taiwan in an
alliance with Japan as well.
Japan and Taiwan are in a community bound together by common fate. However,
Japan, hypersensitive to China’s rebuffs, has thus far evaded involvement
in matters of defense of Taiwan and its peripheral waters; Japan has taken
advantage of the US Taiwan Relations Act, as it were, and fed on the
goodwill of the people of Taiwan.
If Japan should continue evading risks and sacrifices as tension level
keeps on rising over Taiwan, the Japan-US Alliance will suffer, peace and
stability in the Asia-Pacific region affected, and eventually Japan’s own
national interests will be immensely damaged.
To prevent this from happening, Japan must formulate a Taiwan policy in
full compliance with the US Taiwan Relations Act. It is thus indispensable
to set some legal basis to work on.
In order for Japan to install a dauntless China policy, a piece of law to
identify the basics of Japan’s relations with Taiwan is absolutely
indispensable. In order to materialize the vision of Prime Minister Abe’s
Five Principles, we hereby propose that a Japan-Taiwan Relations Basic Act
be enacted in the framework as designed below:
1. Tension has mounted over the Asia-Pacific region to such an extent that
the current Japan-Taiwan relations, limited only to commercial, social and
cultural areas on private working level, can no longer cope with the
pressing needs of the time. It is high time that Japan explicitly
identified Taiwan’s legal status as her counterpart and clearly
formulated basic standpoint on which to carry on comprehensive diplomacy
2. It is essential for Japan’s own national interests and for the sake of
stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region at large to cultivate
equal and reciprocal relations between Japan and Taiwan based on freedom,
democracy, human rights, the rule of law, etc. and such common sense of
values as both nations share;
3. We hereby declare that any attempt, unless by peaceful means, to
determine the future of Taiwan constitutes a threat to peace and stability
of Japan as well as the Asia-Pacific region at large and a matter of utmost
concern for Japan; and that
4. Japan support the relations between Taiwan and the United States based
on the Taiwan Relations Act and cooperate with Taiwan in the spirit of the
Japan-US Alliance to secure the seas as free and open public assets
controlled not by might but by the rule of law.