Japan should take initiative with Biden on Taiwan

Originally published by Asia Times

Seize Taiwan and China could cut at will sea lanes through which much of Japan’s energy supply and trade flow

Japan’s State Minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama said recently in an interview that Taiwan’s security is a “red line” for both Japan and the United States. He encouraged the incoming Biden administration to “stay strong.”

Nakayama, a Liberal Democratic Party parliamentarian whose title places him directly under Minister Nobuo Kishi, also asked the Americans to state their intentions:

“So far, I haven’t yet seen a clear policy or an announcement on Taiwan from Joe Biden. I would like to hear it quickly, then we can also prepare our response on Taiwan in accordance.” 

While this is uncharacteristically direct talk for a Japanese official, Nakayama is partly right. Taiwan’s security is very important for both Japan and the US.

However, his comments also sounded like the all-too-familiar Japanese refrain: “You Americans go first … and then we will think about what we might do.”

About Grant Newsham

Grant Newsham is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy. He also is a Research Fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies focusing on Asia/Pacific defense, political and economic matters. Newsham is a retired U.S. Marine Colonel and was the first US Marine Liaison Officer to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. He also served as reserve head of intelligence for Marine Forces Pacific, and was the U.S. Marine Attaché, US Embassy Tokyo on two occasions.