Keiji Furuya, head of the Japan-ROC Diet Members’ Consultative Council, said that his council has been working to broker security cooperation between Japan, the United States and Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China.


“It is important for like-minded countries to join hands and curb China,” Furuya told reporters via videoconference during a question-and-answer session of the Yushan Forum in Taipei.


Furuya, of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said he hopes the forum would be institutionalized, with each member taking turns hosting it on a regular basis.


The envisioned trilateral forum was to have kicked off in May, but it has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Furuya said.


In addition to the planned platform, Furuya said he plans to use Japan’s Pacific island summit next year to let the participating countries understand the importance of maintaining official relations with Taiwan and warn against China’s so-called “debt trap diplomacy” that ensnares recipient countries with loans they cannot repay.


Taiwan has only 15 countries that recognize the self-ruled island as a sovereign entity, with four in the South Pacific region.


China, which sees Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting unification, has stepped up its efforts to diplomatically squeeze Taiwan internationally since Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party became president in May 2016.


In September last year, Kiribati became the seventh country to sever ties with Taipei and establish them with Beijing during Tsai’s administration.


Furuya said while Japan and China need each other economically and have signed trade deals to advance economic ties, “We don’t see China as a friendly ally.”


The best policy when dealing with a country that does not obey international rules is “to keep a safe distance,” he said.


Furuya also said China’s military vessels and warplanes continue to intrude Japan’s territorial waters and airspace, making a majority of the Japanese people have unfavorable opinion of the neighboring country.