Japanese and American forces have drafted a draft plan for a joint operation for a possible Taiwan emergency, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported amid heightened tensions between the island and China.
Under the plan, the US Marine Corps would set up temporary bases on the Nansei island chain stretching from Kyushu – one of the four main islands of the Japan — to Taiwan in the initial stages of a Taiwanese emergency and would deploy troops, Kyodo said Thursday, citing unnamed Japanese government sources.
Japanese forces would provide logistical support in areas such as ammunition and fuel supplies, it said.
Japan, a former colonial ruler of Taiwan, and the US were likely to reach an agreement to formulate an official plan early next year at a “2+2” meeting of foreign and defense ministers, the news agency said.
Officials from Japan’s Defense Ministry were not immediately available for comment.
China claims that Taiwan is democratically governed as its own “sacred” territory and has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure over the past two years to assert its sovereignty claims, fueling anger in Taipei and deep concern in Washington.
The government of Taiwan says it wants peace, but will defend itself if necessary.
In October, the Japanese government gave a more assertive stance on China’s aggressive stance on self-ruled Taiwan, suggesting it would consider options and prepare for “different scenarios” while reaffirming close ties with the US.
Earlier this month, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan and the US would not be able to watch if China attacks Taiwan.
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have long said that given the tens of thousands of troops the US has in Japan and its proximity to Taiwan, Japan should probably play a key role in any emergency situation in Taiwan.
Japan is home to major US military bases, including on the southern island of Okinawa, a short distance from Taiwan, which would be crucial for US support during a Chinese attack.
The US, like most countries in the world, recognizes China above Taiwan, in line with Beijing’s “one China” policy. But Washington is the island’s largest arms supplier and ally and is legally obligated to help it defend itself.