Thu, 07 Dec 2023

Tokyo [Japan], September 20 (ANI): Japan made two important defence personnel appointments last week in the face of China's increasing military manoeuvres near Taiwan and Japan, Voice of America (VOA) reported.

Voice of America is the state-owned news network and international radio broadcaster of the US.

Analysts think the moves reflect the growing level of importance that Tokyo attaches to the status across the Taiwan Strait.

A regional security expert at the International Christian University in Japan, Stephen Nagy told VOA in a phone interview:"China has engaged in a lot of provocative activities near Taiwan and the Japanese are deeply worried about these.""Japan is sending a signal to Beijing that they seek to prioritize peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait by appointing pro-Taiwan individuals to defence-related positions," he added.

Last week, Japan appointed a serving defence ministry official as its de facto defence attache in Taiwan, reversing the previous policy of appointing retired Japan Self-Defense-Force officers to the role at the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, the organization that represents Japanese interests in Taipei.

Experts say this development shows Tokyo's desire to improve the quality of conversations related to the security situation across the Taiwan Strait. They hope to achieve the goal by appointing the right person to be the de facto defence attache.

Professor of war and strategy in East Asia at King's College London, Alessio Patalano, said:"This [move] speaks to the ability to develop stronger ties at the human level.""Stability across the Taiwan Strait has an inevitable repercussion for Japanese security and there is a growing perception in Tokyo that having someone in Taipei makes it easier to have a better quality conversation," he added, as per VOA.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also appointed Minoru Kihara, a politician with a track record of promoting stronger ties between Tokyo and Taipei, as Japan's new defence minister. Kihara's appointment is part of the cabinet reshuffle announced by the Japanese government on September 13.

Kihara was secretary general of the Japan-Taiwan inter-parliamentary group and visited Taiwan as part of a Japanese parliamentary delegation last August. Patalano from King's College says his appointment shows Tokyo wants to have someone capable of understanding what role Japan may or may not play amid rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

"Kihara has served as a junior minister at the Ministry of Defense before, he has visited Taiwan and he has a personal interest in cross-Strait stability. It shows that Japan is taking development across the Taiwan Strait seriously," he told VOA. (ANI)

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