Japan has entered 2023 by expanding its military capabilities in anticipation of aiding Taiwan in the face of aggression from the People's Republic of China, as tensions in the region grow.
According to Taiwan News, "Japan's leaders have made it clear that maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and being prepared to assist in the defense of Taiwan is an integral aspect of that defense policy."
On Wednesday, Japan's Minister of Defense Hamada Yasukazu and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hayashi Yoshimasa met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Security Dialogue in Washington, DC. The American and Japanese parties agreed to align military efforts from the US Pacific Command and Japan's Self-Defense Forces and have the two forces fully reorganized in collaboration by 2025. Taiwan News reports, " It was also announced that an artillery regiment in Okinawa would be reconstituted into a new marine littoral regiment with fast-strike and anti-ship capabilities."
The Washington Post reports that the leaders from the US and Japan agreed that greater military capability would expand in Japan's Ryukyu Islands, with new military bases being built on Ishigaki and Yonaguni Islands, which are part of the Yaeyama Island archipelago within the Ryukyu Islands.
On Friday, it was announced that Japan is further increasing its military presence on the Yaeyama Island archipelago, near Taiwan's east coast.
In August of 2022, China launched five missiles which flew over Taiwan and landed in waters off the coast of Okinawa's Hateruma Island, which is part of Japan.
In November, Japan announced it would be building up its Self Defense Forces in the region.
Last week, the People's Republic of China's military force, the People's Liberation Army, began combat drills in the "waters" and "aerial areas" around Taiwan, claiming the move was "countering collusion between external forces and TW (Taiwan) secessionists."
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday and the two leaders agreed their countries would begin joint military exercises.
On Wednesday, Kishida also met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, and the two signed a new military pact uniting Japan and UK.
Kishida also visited Canada last Monday and met with Justin Trudeau, with both parties agreeing on increased cooperation towards maintaining the status quo in the Indo-Pacific.
Japan Times reports that Kishida met with President Joe Biden on Friday, and the two pledged a continued alliance between the two nations. Biden said, "I don't think there's ever been a time when we've been closer to Japan."
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