News analysis

Japan's expansion of defence ties signals alarm over China-Taiwan flashpoint

Staving off military conflict and threat to Asia's security order the main goal, say experts

Japanese and American navy vessels passing through the western Pacific Ocean in 2017 as part of a military exercise. Japan has been instrumental in corralling friendly nations to deploy warships to the Indo-Pacific, and just last week held its first
Japanese and American navy vessels passing through the western Pacific Ocean in 2017 as part of a military exercise. Japan has been instrumental in corralling friendly nations to deploy warships to the Indo-Pacific, and just last week held its first joint air force exercises with the Philippines. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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Japan is a prominent player in the strategic calculus of the two great powers, the United States and China, with Tokyo effectively acting as Washington's lieutenant in the region as a fellow democracy and security ally.

This is against the flashpoint of Taiwan. The Economist magazine in April described the island as the "most dangerous place on earth". A month later, panellists told a Nikkei forum that the Taiwan Strait posed the gravest threat to regional security.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2021, with the headline Japan's expansion of defence ties signals alarm over China-Taiwan flashpoint. Subscribe