Japan will play an important supporting role: expert

  • Jonathan Chin / Staff Writer

A former senior Japanese military official told Nikkei Asia that in the event of a Taiwan crisis, Japan should be prepared to take on a Polish-like role in the current conflict in Ukraine, supporting Taiwan with arms, humanitarian relief and asylum for refugees.

Only Japan can be the international community’s gateway to Taiwan because the Philippines refuses to do so, and Australia and Hawaii are too far away, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (SDF) retired Lt. Gen. Koichiro Bansho was quoted as saying. said in an interview published Friday.

Japan has historically accepted few immigrants and must be prepared to accept a large influx of Taiwanese, he said, adding, „We don’t have the system to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees.”

Photo: Reuters

Bansho, who had previously commanded Japan’s Western Army tasked with the defense of Kyushu and Okinawa, said Japan probably should not assume a combat role in a conflict across the Taiwan Strait.

„The greatest contribution Japan can make is to defend itself,” he said.

Because of Japan’s strategic position, Pansho said, the country could pose huge military challenges to China by securing key chokepoints.

„China has nine exit points to the outer seas, five of which are located in the Japanese archipelago,” he said.

The five access points in Japan are Tsukaru Strait, Osumi Strait, Yokote Canal, Miyako Strait, and Yonakuni Canal.

„One of Japan’s strategies is to impose costs on the opponent,” Bansho was quoted as saying. “If mines are scattered in the water, it will be difficult to remove them. If anti-aircraft defenses are deployed, establishing air superiority will be more difficult.

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The Japanese armed forces will not fight in Taiwan itself, he said.

„The SDF’s main areas of operation will be in Japanese territory and in international waters to protect Japanese ships,” Nikkei quoted him as saying.

„A situation where the SDF goes to Taiwanese soil and defends Taipei together with the US, for example, is not expected,” he said.

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