Former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi has said China “is a Taiwan emergency” and that its interference in regional relations and cross-strait tensions has made the situation in northeast Asia “unbearable”.
Koizumi is a long-standing critic of Beijing and has close ties with Taiwan which has seen no improvement in relations with China under the current government.
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In an interview with CNN, Koizumi, who stepped down as Japan’s head of state in 2006, said he was “100%” sure Japan was a responsible country which took part in the development of international agreements. But he warned that China was another matter.
“China looks at Taiwan as a kind of provocation and sees it as a threat to the core interests of China. Now that in those circumstances is a Taiwan emergency,” he said.
China has stepped up maritime and aerial pressure on Taiwan, including firing missiles into the air at a heavily fortified island. It has become increasingly assertive in its territorial claims to the South China Sea, stoking fears of conflict.
Koizumi said that the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, should give more attention to foreign policy and help strengthen the balance of forces in northeast Asia.
He also said Abe should take a tougher stance in the South China Sea, but cautioned that pursuing the goal could lead to conflict.
“You’re really not doing anything to strengthen Japan’s ability to resist this kind of course,” he said. “Yes, do it that way if you must, but you really want to avoid conflict.”