Japan’s PM aims to quell simmering China-Taiwan tensions on US visit

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Sunday said Taiwan’s peace and stability is key to the region and that Japan will cooperate with the United States to calm rising tensions between China and Taiwan.

Suga is set to meet with President Joe Biden in Washington next week, the US leader’s first in-person summit since taking office in January. Tokyo considers its US alliance to be the cornerstone of its diplomatic and security policies and is eager to develop close relations with the new US administration.

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Taiwan is expected to be on the agenda as the leaders seek ways to deal with China’s growing security threat in the region. Chinese warplanes are increasingly entering Taiwanese airspace, and China has protested an agreement to bolster cooperation between the US and Taiwanese coast guards that followed Washington’s new sales of arms equipment to Taipei.

“It is important for Japan and the United States to cooperate and use deterrence to create an environment where Taiwan and China can find a peaceful solution,” Suga said on a television talk show Sunday.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, to be brought under Beijing’s control by force if necessary, and it has worked to internationally isolate the island.

Japan considers China’s growing activity to be a security threat and opposes Beijing’s claim to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea and its increased activity in the disputed area. China also claims ownership over virtually the entire South China Sea and has built military installations on reefs and atolls by covering them with sand and concrete.

China has denied it is expansionist and has said it is only defending its territorial rights.

Suga also hopes to advance a vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” to promote rules-based order in the region and discuss ways to cooperate on policy toward North Korea. The ongoing fight against the pandemic and climate change are also among key issues.

Suga, who has set a goal of achieving a carbon neutral society by 2050, said he hoped to closely cooperate with Biden to jointly lead international efforts to tackle the pressing issue when the US leader hosts a virtual climate change summit just a week after their meeting.

“I hope to fully exchange our views when I meet with (Biden) so that we can lead(global) efforts together,(asterisk) Suga said.

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