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Japan, U.S. welcome China-Taiwan summit; Tokyo to invite Taiwan to join TPP

(Nikkei: November 8, 2015 – p. 3)


 The Japanese government’s position on the China-Taiwan summit is: “It is hoped that a peaceful settlement will be achieved through direct dialogue between the parties concerned,” according to a senior Foreign Ministry official. However, it is also wary of losing “Taiwan” as a diplomatic card, so it is adopting a wait-and-see approach.


 China and Taiwan may also form a united front against Japan on history issues and the Senkaku dispute from the standpoint of one Chinese nation. It appears that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi had close relations with Taiwan, is also “watching how the situation unfolds with strong interest,” according to an aide.


 However, the Japanese government reckons that the China-Taiwan relationship is not likely to become any closer because there are still strong anti-China sentiments among Taiwan citizens. It plans to invite Taiwan to join the TPP unofficially so that Taipei will keep a certain distance from Beijing economically.


 (Report by Naoya Yoshino from Washington) The Obama administration officially “welcomes” the China-Taiwan summit (White House spokesman Josh Earnest), but in reality, it is wary that Taiwan’s moving closer to China may strengthen China’s influence in the East China Sea, including the Taiwan Strait and the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa.


 There have also been negative reactions to the prompt expression of approval of the summit within the U.S. government because closer relations between China — which is asserting sovereignty over the South China Sea and the Senkakus — and Taiwan may become a disruptive factor in East Asian security.


 A former senior White House official who was responsible for Asian policy would only say: “I’m not sure about the impact on Japan,” although the Japanese and U.S. defense authorities have already begun analyzing the various scenarios. It is possible that President Barack Obama’s wait-and-see approach may result in a tense situation similar to the South China Sea.

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