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The Japan-U.S. Security Alliance and the Defense of the ROC (Taiwan)

One of the recent lecture hosted by IDAS was on the topic “The Japan-U.S. Security Alliance and the Defense of the ROC (Taiwan). The lecture was by Prof. Kerry Gershaneck who is currently a Taiwan Fellow at Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies, College of International Affairs, National Chengchi University.

Speaking on U.S policy for strategic ties and policy by U.S President Donald Trump there has been majorly three initiatives, first, is the National Security Strategy (NSS) in 2017; National Defense Strategy (NDS) in 2018; and finally for Fiscal Year 2019, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is waiting for the Congressional support. Prof. Kerry mentioned that all such acts and policies have refocused and reengaged U.S in the Asia-Pacific region.

Prof. Kerry highlighted the key issues which are major concerns for Japan. First is the nuclear weapons in the region, second is the rising China which have recently increased its military activities in and around Japan, thirdly is the Russia as until now since World War II, there has been territorial disputes between Russia and Japan on the islands north of Japan, fourthly, is the North Korea issue which has been unpredictable as always. All such issues have made Japan’s security in some point as vulnerable. The security alliance between Japan and U.S is very much central to Taiwan’s (R.O.C) security too especially in the case of China.

The current Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe has tried to address the security challenges of Japan by revising two times the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) which is mostly the defense policy of Japan, he has tried to improve the US-Japan Guidelines for Defense Cooperation which is key to the security ties between the two nations. Additionally, the Article 9 of Japan’s constitution which bars the Japan to participate in any kind of military activity and also to have its own army, has been recently been amended to allow Japan assist other nations in case there is a war. Mr. Abe has been preparing Midterm Defense Plan which is an outline for new defense projects and acquisitions.

Mentioning all the changes happening to Japan’s security policy, it does have few challenges. First, is the changing or even amending major restrictions by Article 9, Japanese forces have no prior combat experience since World War II, the Chief of Defense of Japan have dual job to do, he has to fight in case there is a war and also he has to deal with the politicians and bureaucrats which will hamper the response rate by the Japanese forces, Japan still lack coherent national defense strategy, even though there has been lot of exercise between Japan and U.S forces there lacks inter training and connection between the forces, Japanese forces are also lacking a unified command, rapid response and combat efficiency among them which can significantly affect the response that they can give to the enemy forces.

The most imminent threat comes from China which has significantly raised its air and sea intrusions into Japan and Taiwan side. There has been speculation that around “Nanshei Shoto” island there can be an attack by Chinese forces as a diversion to attack Taiwan. The massive air intrusions are also a way to wear out the fighter jets and its pilots which is a method employed by China too. China has significantly raised its military activity in the region, according to first doctrine, China should gain the initiative by striking first and making its enemy in shock and disarray; secondly, according to China first strike shouldn’t not be always by military involvement.

China has also employed various tactics to influence the people’s opinion in its targeted countries, such as its own Informatization Department is closely linked with Strategic Support Forces which does the political warfare, such as buying of news media outlets to say good about China, bribing officials by helping them in sponsoring their vacations in expensive destinations and also sponsoring lots of protests activities in its targeted countries.

In his concluding remarks, Prof. Kerry mentioned that even though there are many challenges by Japan and Taiwan there has been a good attempt to overcome such challenges faced by the two both militarily and politically such as Japan has been installing Anti-Ship Missiles (ASM) on its offshore islands and having a good early warning system which can help in warning it of any threat.