Taiwan ‘could be next Ukraine’, Japan’s prime minister warns G7 leaders

Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida told Western nations that east Asia could become the next Ukraine given a rise in China’s aggression against Taiwan and North Korea’s military activity.

During his first trip to Washington since his election in October 2021, Mr Kishida visited leaders of all members of the Group of 7 nations (G7), except Germany.

The Japanese president stressed the importance of standing up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, arguing that if a unilateral change to the status quo went unchallenged, the same would happen elsewhere.

“Ukraine may be the east Asia of tomorrow,” the Japanese prime minister told a news conference, calling security concerns “inseparable”.

“The situation around Japan is becoming increasingly severe with attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the East China Sea and South China Sea, and the activation of North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities,” he added.

Mr Kishida was referring to China’s growing assertiveness around Taiwan. In August last year, five missiles sent by China landed in Japanese waters as part of major military exercises around Taiwan, in an apparent warning to the neighbouring country, which has shown support to the self-ruling island.

Although Taiwan has been a self-governing democracy since its separation from the mainland following a civil war in 1949, China claims the island is a part of its national territory. Beijing has beefed up its military activity and routinely sends several warplanes and vessels toward Taiwan to bully the island.

At a summit with US president Joe Biden, Mr Kishida said the alliance between the two nations was stronger than ever after Japan last month announced its biggest military build-up since the Second World War.

He said: “In our coordination in the run-up to the Hiroshima summit, the greatest issue was, needless to say, the Russian aggression against Ukraine, which will soon mark one year since the start.”

Mr Kishida continued: “I pointed out that the aggression against Ukraine is not only a European problem but also a challenge to the very rules and principles of the international community, and agreed with the heads of state and government that the G7 Hiroshima summit should demonstrate a strong will to uphold the international order, based on the rule of law.”