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Japan and Taiwan. Pushing the Limits Brian Bridges. Legacies of History. 1. First step in Japanese colonial empire: - modernity but exploitation - ‘Japanization’ but Taiwanese consciousness stimulated

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japan and taiwan

Japan and Taiwan

Pushing the Limits

Brian Bridges

legacies of history
Legacies of History

1. First step in Japanese colonial empire:

- modernity but exploitation

- ‘Japanization’ but Taiwanese consciousness stimulated

2. 1952 Japan-ROC Peace Treaty – tourism and trade

3. ‘Nixon shock’ and Japanese recognition of PRC – strategic and economic concerns

informal relations
Informal Relations
  • Economic and human ties remained, even though diplomatic set-back for Taiwan
  • Japan kept ‘working relations of a non-governmental nature’, using Japan Interchange Association as ‘embassy’
  • Politicians’ contacts between Kuomintang (KMT) and Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
taiwanese dynamics i
Taiwanese Dynamics (I)
  • Rise of locally-born Taiwanese within KMT, leading to Lee Teng-hui

becoming President

– strong personal links to Japan

  • encouraged economic and cultural links with Japan
  • charm offensive
taiwanese dynamics ii
Taiwanese Dynamics (II)
  • From 2000, Chen Shui-bian as President

– nostalgic view of Japan from pro-independence supporters (DPP)

- more ‘assertive’ approach to pull Japan to Taiwan’s side, even suggesting a Japanese version of the US’s Taiwan Relations Act and a ‘semi-strategic partnership’ – shared

- Taiwanese public’s preference for status quo but with more international space

quietly up grading relations
Quietly Up-grading Relations
  • Politicians and officials visiting each way more frequently and at higher level of seniority
  • From 2003 Interchange Association in Taipei formally celebrated Emperor’s birthday
  • Unofficial defence/military contacts through ‘academic’ conferences
the japanese approach
The Japanese Approach
  • After 1972, Japan pursued ‘official’ relations with PRC and ‘unofficial’ relations with Taiwan (ROC).
  • Japan promoted a ‘one China’ policy, but was reluctant to sign up to the so-called ‘three nos’
  • Japan had no wish for Taiwan to be absorbed into PRC, but did not want to be directly entangled
japan s interests in better contacts i
Japan’s Interests in Better Contacts (I)
  • ‘Pro-Taiwan’ politicians within LDP rising to greater prominence
  • Decline of ‘pro-PRC’ opposition parties (and new major party, Democratic Party, also favourable to Taiwan)
  • Japanese sympathy for Taiwanese democracy
  • Trade/investment benefits from Taiwan market for Japanese companies rising
japan s interests in better contacts ii
Japan’s Interests in Better Contacts (II)
  • Japanese media more active – and growing popular Japanese interest in Taiwanese food and tourism
  • Greater concern about peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits – wake-up call of 1995-96 crisis – 1997 guidelines for Japan-US defence cooperation – 2005 Japan-US statement – pushing against the constitutional limitations
limitations and constraints i
Limitations and Constraints (I)
  • The China factor

For PRC a strengthened Japan-Taiwan relationship encourages Taiwanese independence tendencies – warnings to Japan not to ‘cross the line’ in contacts

Sino-Japanese relations becoming increasingly complex and during Koizumi era characterised by ‘economically hot, politically cold’ – but Japan needs China market more ?

limitations and constraints ii
Limitations and Constraints (II)
  • The US factor

Influence of US Asian policy on Japan’s foreign policy – US wishes to maintain a balance across the Taiwan Straits and does not want to see either Taiwan or PRC (or Japan) upset that situation

Any military confrontation across the Straits would bring in Japan – bases on Japanese soil would be used by any US forces involved

japanese policy perspectives
Japanese Policy Perspectives

Form of ‘quasi-alignment’ with Taiwan

- Japan wishes to show support for Taiwan, but not in such an unambiguous manner that Taiwanese expectations are of Japanese support in any circumstances

- No alliance despite both sides sharing a common ‘adversary’ and a close relationship with a common fourth power

two sides of the same coin
Two Sides of the Same Coin?
  • In March 2006, Chen said that Taiwan-Japan relations were at their closest since the two sides broke official relations in 1972.
  • The previous April (2005) a senior Chinese official said that Sino-Japanese relations were at their lowest level since 1972.
going forward
Going Forward

Domestic change in both Japan and Taiwan

- Abe – pragmatism and power (‘normal’)

- March 2008 Taiwanese presidential elections (Ma and KMT to win?) – ongoing debate on Taiwanese ‘identity’

Chinese leaders’ perspectives

- cannot allow Taiwan to ‘slip away’

US presidential changes (US-China tension?)