Japan shouldn't open up a Pandora's Box on the Taiwan question
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Japanese media Sankei Shimbun reported in early June that Japan is expected to station a serving military staff member in China's Taiwan region to enhance its intelligence-gathering abilities and that a retired Japanese defense official is already stationed at the Taipei office of the "Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association." It has been described by analysts as a structural change in Japan's attitude and policy towards the Taiwan region.

Stationing a serving Japanese military staff member in the region could spark a dangerous crisis that's going to de-stabilize the entire East Asia and, given Japan's close military relationship with the United States, have wide-ranging repercussions beyond the region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin once commented on Japan's policy towards the Taiwan region, saying that Japan bears historical responsibilities to the Chinese people on the Taiwan question. Japan should speak and act with extra prudence, earnestly learn lessons from history and avoid repeating past mistakes.

It's apparent that past mistakes are being repeated and history lessons forgotten. The reckless move of stationing a serving military member in Taiwan would be a clear signal that Japan considers Taiwan as an asset that needs to be protected with its military power – a power supposed to be self-defensive for the Japanese people but that is used for Japan's own geopolitical aggression instead.

It's no secret that the Democratic Progressive Party in the region has been increasingly groveling to Japan. Its leader Tsai Ing-wen's former "Secretary General" Su Jia-chyuan was appointed head of the "Taiwan-Japan Relations Association." According to a Japan Times' report in 2020, "pro-Japanese youths" were described as an "electoral secret weapon" for Tsai. Her party has been whitewashing Japan's colonial history in the region since taking power.

People wearing masks walk on street in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, March 30, 2020. /Xinhua

People wearing masks walk on street in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, March 30, 2020. /Xinhua

These "Taiwan independence" forces see kowtowing to Japan and Japan's patron the United States as the safest way to achieve their ultimate goal – declaring independence. Japan, with its increasingly aggressive anti-China policy and under Washington's security umbrella, sees the Taiwan question as the pressure point to test China's growing influence in the region and across the world.

Well, they are going to feel the pain if this is the path they've decided to walk. Japan has a more than $370 billion trade relations with China. China has been Japan's largest trading partner for more than a decade, accounting for around one-fifth of Japan's total trade volume. Is this something Japan wants to upend? The last time Japan started to project its aggressive military strength beyond its borders, war and chaos ensued in East Asia. Is this something Japan wants to resurrect?

It's understandable that Japan may depend more on the United States for its security situation. After all, they've signed a security treaty after WWII. However, is aligning the country's entire China policy and geopolitical strategy in the region with the United States a wise choice? Does aggressively de-stabilizing the political landscape of East Asia help considering Japan's lukewarm economic performance?

During this year's Shangri-La Dialogue, the defense ministers of the United States, South Korea and Japan jointly emphasized the "importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait" and claimed that "all disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner." Stationing military personnel in the region is neither conducive to peace and stability nor supports the claim that disputes should be resolved peacefully.

Stationing military personnel in the Taiwan region is tantamount to opening up a Pandora's Box. Once opened, it takes the country onto a devastating path that it can hardly control. Taiwan is a part of China. Japan needs to see that it doesn't want and can't afford to face the wrath of China and the Chinese people.

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