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Japan warns of possible defence crisis, greater tech rivalry

Japan's Deputy PM and Finance Minister Taro Aso, wearing a face mask, delivers a speech in parliament in Tokyo in January 2021. Photo: Issei Kato/ Reuters.

Senior Japanese officials have said that increased military tension over Taiwan and intensifying technological rivalry between the US and China could spark a crisis in the region


Japan has warned in its annual defence white paper that growing military tension around Taiwan, as well as rivalry between China and the United States, raises the prospect of crisis in the region.

The Japanese defence review, which was approved by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government on Tuesday, points to China as Japan‘s main national security concern, Reuters reported.

“It is necessary that we pay close attention to the situation with a sense of crisis more than ever,” the paper said in a new section on Taiwan. In particular, competition in technological fields is likely to become even more intense,” it said about US-China rivalry.

China’s recent increase in military activity around Taiwan has Japan worried since the island lies close to the Okinawa chain at the western end of the Japanese archipelago.


This spurred an angry reaction in Beijing, which said Japan has “for some time now” been making baseless accusations about China’s normal defence buildup and military activities.

“This is very wrong and irresponsible. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping this month pledged to complete the “reunification” with Taiwan and in June criticised the United States as a “risk creator” after it sent a warship through the Taiwan Straits separating the island from the mainland.

Japan‘s deputy prime minister and finance minister, Taro Aso, this month in a speech reported by local media said Japan should join forces with the United States to defend Taiwan from any invasion. Aso later said any contingency over Taiwan should be resolved through dialogue when asked about the remarks.

As the military rivalry between the US and China deepens, their economic competition is fueling a race to take the lead in technologies such as semiconductors, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

The technological rivalry poses a challenge for Japan because its economy relies as much on business ties with China as it does with the United States.

Japan will also have to spend heavily to keep up with government funding for technology development in the United States, China and Europe.

An increase in disasters linked to global warming could also stretch military capabilities, Japan said, while Arctic Sea ice melting could lead to the militarisation of northern waters.

Reporting by Reuters.



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