In a move that will further strain Sino-Japanese ties, the Japanese Foreign Ministry announced on Friday that it is creating a new position, to take effect next April, to handle maritime issues in the East China Sea, including Taiwan and the Diaoyu Islands.
According to the Japanese ministry, the post-holders will be monitoring the situation around the Diaoyu Islands as well as keeping a close eye on what is happening in the Taiwan Straits. What is particularly provocative is that the senior Japanese diplomat in the role is expected to facilitate exchanges between Taiwan officials and their European and United States counterparts, according to the ministry.
Tokyo maintains nongovernmental and working-level relations with the island's government, but it recognizes the one-China principle and has diplomatic ties with Beijing. So the new post is clearly intended to facilitate its meddling in China's domestic affairs and help Tokyo curry favor with Washington.
The latest Japanese move comes amid rising acrimony between Japan and China over remarks by former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe over the Taiwan question.
Abe, who is widely perceived to be the flag-bearer for Japan's ultra-rightist forces, brazenly supported the Taiwan secessionists recently by claiming that a "Taiwan emergency" would be a "Japanese emergency". By announcing its plan to establish a Taiwan-related position, the Japanese government is throwing its weight behind Abe's words. It should be aware of the consequences of emboldening the independence-seekers in Taiwan to the extent they trigger the "emergency" Abe was referring to, as China will never allow any infringements upon its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Tokyo should heed the recent words of Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi who said the connotation of the one-China principle is in danger of being blurred or even hollowed out by Taiwan secessionists, whose moves have changed the status quo across the Taiwan Straits, and threaten to undermine peace and stability.
The Diaoyu Islands and Taiwan are inalienable parts of China's territory. Even the United States, while trying to use Taiwan as a pressure point in its strategy to contain China and as a means to vilify China as being "aggressive", says that it upholds the one-China policy.
Given Japan's enthusiasm for its Self-Defense Forces to participate in US-led military drills in the region and reports that a missile base on Ishigaki Island has begun to take shape, Washington should remain mindful of Beijing's redline when playing its games with Tokyo and the island's secessionists, and not allow itself to get carried away.
Japan's latest move makes it clear that despite their claims to the contrary, it is the US-Japan alliance that endangers regional peace and stability.