Tokyo fears that if Taiwan falls then, in the words of the nation’s deputy prime minister, its southern island of “Okinawa could be next”. Deputy prime minister Taro Aso reportedly said on Monday that a “major problem” in Taiwan could also pose a serious threat to the Japanese island of Okinawa. Mr Aso said: “If a major problem took place in Taiwan, it would not be too much to say that it could relate to a survival-threatening situation for Japan.
“We need to think hard that Okinawa could be the next.”
Mr Aso added that any contingency over Taiwan should be resolved through dialogue.
He said: “We are closely monitoring the situation.”
On Tuesday a Japanese government spokesperson said: “Japan hopes the Taiwan issue will be resolved through direct dialogue between parties concerned.
Beijing said that the deputy prime minister’s comments were “harmful” to Sino-Japanese relations.
The deputy prime minister has said that it would join with the US in defending Taiwan if it was ever invaded by China.
After the comments made by the deputy prime minister at the fundraising party, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a conference on Tuesday that the remarks “harmed the political foundation of China-Japan relations”.
He added that Beijing would “resolutely opposed” them.
Mr Lijian said: “No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s staunch resolve, firm will, and formidable ability to defend national sovereignty.”
China also claims sovereignty over Japanese-controlled islets in the East China Sea.
The uninhabited isles, called the Senkaku islands, lie off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa.
Beijing rules only the Chinese mainland, but claims Taiwan as part of its territory under its “One China Principle”.