Academics predict closer Taipei-Tokyo ties

Taipei-Tokyo relations are tipped to improve following the Japan Liberal Democratic Party’s election victory Dec. 16 and return of Shinzo Abe as Japanese prime minister, according to Taiwan academics Dec. 14.

Tsai Zheng-jia, head of National Chengchi University’s Division of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Institute of International Relations, said that after taking power, Abe will strengthen Japan-U.S. relations based on the existing alliance between the two countries.

Abe is likely to view Taiwan as part of the U.S.-Japan alliance’s defense sphere since the island occupies a strategically important location, Tsai said. Consequently, he will bolster Taipei-Tokyo relations and continue fishery talks so as to head off any chance of Taiwan and mainland China joining hands on the Diaoyutai Archipelago issue.

The LDP’s campaign platform advocates amendments to Japan’s constitution, which will transform its self-defense force into a national defense force and strengthen its presence in the Diaoyutais, Tsai said.

Although it is not easy to amend the constitution, Tsai said, Japan may still be able to increase its hold over the archipelago. This will affect relations with Taiwan and mainland China, he added.

The academic said Tokyo also faces challenges reaching agreements on the Diaoyutais as all parties have a clear position on the issue.

Ho Szu-shen, director of Center for Japan Studies at Fu Jen Catholic University, said Abe is very friendly to Taiwan and has visited the country many times. He will handle bilateral ties seriously and there will be better dialogues on fishery talks and an economic cooperation agreement, he added.

Separately, the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs said relations between Taiwan and Japan have always been good and expects they will become even more solid after the LDP administration takes office.

Taiwan Today