Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Japan Will Reap the Whirlwind of Its Collusion With Taiwan
By Chen Yang
Global Times
2017/12/20 22:03:40

Keisuke Suzuki, member of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said last week in Taiwan that a pro-Taiwan group led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's younger brother Nobuo Kishi was studying the possibility of a Japanese version of the Taiwan Relations Act, according to Taiwan media reports.

Suzuki added the work was expected to make progress in a couple of years. "Legislators" serving Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) expressed agreement, calling for establishing a legal framework of "Japan-Taiwan relations" at an earlier date.

Japanese scholars had rolled out the draft of the Japanese version of the Taiwan Relations Act as early as 2005. But uncertain political scenarios in Japan held this draft up until 2012 when Abe was re-elected. In 2013, the Friends of Lee Teng-Hui Association in Japan, set up by Japanese right-wing force and some pro-independence Taiwanese, took the lead in supporting the version. In February 2014, then vice foreign minister Nobuo Kishi proposed the formulation of the Japanese version of the act, bringing the topic to the forefront of politics. In April 2015, then president of the "Legislative Yuan" Wang Jin-pyng visited Japan and thanked Kishi for his contribution to advancing the Japanese version of the act.

Though it does not take long to enact a bill, the pro-Taiwan force in Japan's LDP chose the current timing to push the act through to gain progress within two or three years. There are two reasons for this: practical concerns and consideration for the future political landscape.

Since Tsai Ing-wen came to power as Taiwan's leader in 2016, the DPP has been attempting to challenge cross-Straits relations. Meanwhile, Japan's LDP had its power cemented in the National Diet after the October election, making it easier for them to pass bills.

Taiwan will hold elections in 2020, in which Tsai's pro-independence team will likely lose due to its poor political performance over the past years. Hence, if the LDP successfully brings the Japanese version of the Taiwan Relations Act into effect by 2020, it will not only be a "diplomatic" achievement of Tsai's team but also a big gift from the LDP to the DPP.

Despite the likelihood that the Japanese version of the Taiwan Relations Act will not be finalized, collusion between Abe's cabinet and the DPP has sought to institutionalize and stabilize "Japan-Taiwan relations."

In October 2015, then chair of the DPP Tsai "came across" Abe in Tokyo during her visit to Japan. After she was elected Taiwan's leader in January 2016, the Japanese government and the LDP expressed their congratulations. In March 2017, Jiro Akama, vice minister of internal affairs and communications of Japan, visited Taiwan, becoming the highest-ranking official on a Taiwan trip since the two broke "diplomatic ties" in 1972. Tsai also extended her congratulations to Abe when the LDP won the election in October. It is noted that Abe visited Taiwan twice as former prime minister in 2010 and 2011 and held talks with Tsai.

Therefore, it is fair to say that the Japanese version of the Taiwan Relations Act is a result of collusion between the Abe administration and Taiwan's DPP.

While the deal is not expected to progress in a short term, some of Japan's political forces will probably join hands with the DPP and Taiwan's pro-independence forces to make "Japan-Taiwan relations" official.

Such collusion has actually existed for a long time. There have been pro-Taiwan forces in Japanese political circles since 1945 when Japan was defeated. Abe's maternal grandfather Nobusuke Kishi and great-uncle Eisaku Sato had been to Taiwan on official visits as former prime ministers before 1972. Therefore, there is a possibility that Abe follows the steps of his forefathers by meddling in cross-Straits relations.

Of course, the one-China policy is a universally recognized principle. Anyone who intends to destroy the peaceful reunification of the mainland and Taiwan goes against historical trends and will only end up sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind.

The author is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Sociology at Toyo University.

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