In response to conflicts with China in Taiwan, the United States and Japan have conducted joint military exercises. Both are becoming increasingly concerned about the Chinese military’s activities.
According to six people who asked not to be identified told FT, military officials in the United States and Japan began to carefully plan for potential conflicts in the final year of Trump’s presidency. Top-secret tabletop war games and joint exercises in the South and East China Seas are among the activities.
Because of China’s threat to Taiwan and the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Japan’s then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided in 2019 to significantly expand military planning. According to three people familiar with the situation, this work is continuing under Biden’s leadership and the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government, reports FT.
Randy Schriver, who served as the Pentagon’s senior official for Asian affairs until the end of 2019, said: “In many ways, the People’s Liberation Army has pushed the United States and Japan into new thinking on the Taiwan issue. Assertiveness around the Senkaku and Taiwan at the same time drives home the issue of proximity.”
The US military and the Japanese Self-Defense Force conducted joint exercises in the South China Sea for disaster relief training, two of the six people told FT. They also conducted more military exercises near the Senkaku Islands, which aided in preparing for a conflict with China in Taiwan, which is only 350 kilometres west of the island.
US and Japanese diplomats are studying the legal issues surrounding any joint military operations, such as access to bases and the type of logistical support Japan can provide to US forces in conflict with China.
In the event of a war in Taiwan, the US will rely on Japanese air bases. However, this increases the likelihood of Tokyo becoming involved in a conflict, especially if China attempts to destroy the base in order to thwart the US.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense stated that Tokyo and Washington continued to update their joint plan after revising the military alliance’s guidelines in 2015, but declined to provide any further details. The Pentagon did not respond.
For the first time in five years, the U.S. and Taiwan on Wednesday held their first talks under a dormant trade and investment framework as they pursue stronger trade ties to ramp up pressure on China. But the path to an agreement will likely be rocky.
On the other hand, Russia and China are coordinating military exercises to threaten not only Taiwan but also Hawaii, and the US should be wary of a Pearl Harbor-style surprise attack, said a Japanese defense official.