Taiwan contingency directly connected to Japan’s sovereignty—former Pentagon official
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Elbridge Colby, who was in charge of formulating the US National Defense Strategy in 2018, said in an interview that the Taiwan contingency was a problem directly linked to Japan’s sovereignty. The answers to each question are as follows.
Why has the Taiwan issue recently become a central issue for Japan and the United States?
The power of the Chinese military has continued to increase, and it is gaining the ability to carry out operations not only against Taiwan but throughout the western Pacific in coming years. There is a risk of conflict, initially over Taiwan. And to prevent it, the effective forward defense of the US military is essential, as pointed out in the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
But our efforts have not kept up with the seriousness of the situation. My concern is that President Biden will not be sufficiently direct with the Prime Minister that the situation is very dire.
What is expected of Japan in regards to deterrence against China?
This is not just a problem in the United States, but a problem that is directly linked to Japan’s sovereignty and independence. If China gains hegemony in Asia, Japan will lose the most power. Japan’s defense budget of about 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) is not a way to confront the greatest post-war security threat. I think a reasonable goal is 2%. That would be the floor.
The Biden administration must not completely relieve pressure on Japan with regards to burden sharing. Japan and the United States need a common understanding of the scale of what the Chinese military is doing.
How do you perceive the risk of a Taiwan emergency?
The best strategy for China is fait accompli, and China’s first, best target is Taiwan. To recapture Taiwan would be a much greater effort than to defend it in the first place. And I think there’s a good chance the American people would not support it.
China will press Japan and the Philippines into a subordinate situation, even if not seeking to annex them. It’s important to stop them before they can seize Taiwan.
Where are the US Indo-Pacific forces considering deploying ground-launched missiles?
Indo Pacific Command is considering deployment to the first island chain (from Okinawa to Taiwan and the Philippines). Taiwan is politically difficult. So by process of elimination, both Japan and the Philippines will need to host the system.
There is strong hesitation within Japan when it comes to cooperation on a Taiwan contingency.
The important thing is to speak up and prepare more in Japan and the United States. China will find it more formidable if it knows that it has to fight both the United States and Japan. Peace comes from the preparation for war. No one is asking Japan to go to war together with us in the Middle East. I understand the political difficulties, but a delay in responding would make it more difficult and painful.