《TAIPEI TIMES》 Japan would play a key supporting role: expert
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan* and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga sail in formation with 16 other ships from the US Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force on Nov. 8, 2018. Photo: Reuters
By Jonathan Chin / Staff writer
A former Japanese military senior officer told Nikkei Asia that if a Taiwan crisis occurs, Japan should be prepared to take on a role like Poland in the current conflict in Ukraine, supporting Taiwan by providing arms, humanitarian relief and sanctuary to refugees.
Japan is the only country that could be the international community’s gateway to Taiwan, as the Philippines would likely decline to do so, and Australia and Hawaii are too distant, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force （SDF） retired lieutenant general Koichiro Bansho was cited as saying in an interview published on Friday.
Japan has historically accepted few immigrants and must be prepared to accept a large influx of Taiwanese, he said, adding, “We do not have a system ready to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees.”
Bansho, who formerly commanded Japan’s Western Army, tasked with the defense of Kyushu and Okinawa, said that Japan should probably not take on a combat role in a conflict across the Taiwan Strait.
“The greatest contribution Japan can make is to properly defend itself,” he said.
Due to Japan’s strategic position, the country could cause enormous military challenges for China by defending key chokepoints, Bansho said.
“China has nine exit points to the outer seas, and five of those are located in the Japanese archipelago,” he said.
The five access points in Japan refer to the Tsugaru Strait, Osumi Strait, Yokoate Channel, Miyako Strait and Yonaguni Channel.
“One of Japan’s strategies is to impose costs on the opponent,” Bansho was quoted as saying. “If mines were scattered in the waters, it would be a hassle to remove them. If anti-air defenses were deployed, it would be very difficult to establish air superiority.”
Japanese armed forces would not fight in Taiwan itself, he said.
“The main areas of the SDF’s activity will be in Japanese territory and perhaps international waters to protect Japanese ships, Nikkei quoted him as saying.
“A scenario in which the SDF will go onto Taiwanese land and defend Taipei alongside the US, for instance, is not expected,” he said.