Japan Snubs China Warnings to Invite Taiwan for Swift Security Talks

A groundbreaking security dialogue between ruling party officials from Japan and Taiwan will materalized this week, in spite of repeated warnings from the Chinese government.

The talks, which will involve topics such as regional security in the Indo-Pacific as well as China's military pressure affecting both countries, are scheduled as a virtual meeting for this coming Friday in a swift arrangement that happened less than a week after news emerged from Tokyo.

Like most countries in the world, Japan has no official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China claims is part of its territory despite having never governed the democratic island.

In recent months, however, Tokyo has voiced concerns about Taiwan's security, noting Beijing's increased military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Last month, the Japanese Defense Ministry's annual white paper said it was "necessary that we pay close attention to the situation with a sense of crisis more than ever before."

The quasi-"2+2" dialogue—the first of its kind between the simpatico Asian neighbors—will feature Japanese parliamentarians Masahisa Sato and Taku Otsuka of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in their respective roles as directors of the LDP's Foreign Affairs and National Defense divisions.

Taiwan will be represented by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Lo Chih-cheng and Tsai Shih-ying, both of whom sit on the Taiwanese legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee. Lo is also director of the DPP's Department of International Affairs.

In comments to the press on Wednesday, DPP spokesperson Hsieh Pei-fen said the Taiwanese lawmakers would join Friday's bilateral security talks via video link at the party's Taipei headquarters.

A press briefing has been scheduled for after the meeting for Lo and Tsai to discuss details of the dialogue.

Given the political sensitivities surrounding the semi-official talks, Taiwan's ruling party is unsurprisingly guarded about the subject. The island's official Central News Agency reports that the agenda will include diplomacy, regional security, China as well as future Japan-Taiwan cooperation.

Japan-Taiwan Ruling Parties to Hold Security Talks
File photo: Masahisa Sato of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party. Sebastián Vivallo Oñate/Getty Images

Top officials in Tokyo have linked Taiwan's continued security to Japan's own survival in the past month. In comments to the Financial Times on Wednesday, the LDP's Sato said the future of Taiwan would have "a serious impact" on Japan's security and economy.

"That is how important we feel the situation in Taiwan is at the moment," the paper quoted him as saying. Sato said the LDP was planning higher-level talks with Taiwan in the future.

The urgency with which Japan has arranged the party-led discussions appears to reflect real concerns about China's military ambitions in the Taiwan Strait. Tokyo has also had to resist public warnings from Beijing.

"The Taiwan question concerns the political foundations of China-Japan relations," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

"We solemnly urge Japan to re-examine the relevant considerations, refrain from interfering in China's internal affairs in any way and avoid sending wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces," he added, reiterating comments made by the ministry last week.