Photo/Illutration Troops advance after disembarking from a Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter at the Kirishima training area straddling Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures on May 15. (Sunao Gushiken)

The strategic importance of Taiwan was mentioned for the first time in a draft of the Defense Ministry’s white paper, which was heavily focused on maritime moves by China’s military.

“Stabilizing the Taiwan situation is important for Japan’s national security and stabilization of the international community,” the draft of the 2021 defense white paper says.

Noting that China’s military operations have become more active in the area surrounding Taiwan, the draft contains a chapter on the increasing competitiveness between Washington and Beijing, including in the field of technology.

The official white paper, expected to be issued in July, will explain the Defense Ministry’s policies, the activities of the Self-Defense Forces and movements of surrounding nations.

Chinese military operations in the area around Taiwan “have become further active,” and the United States “has clearly shown its support for Taiwan on the military front,” the draft says.

It emphasizes that Japan must pay close attention to the situation.

The draft states that China’s military operations are “a strong concern in terms of security for the region, including Japan, and the international community.”

China has spent 20 trillion yen ($181.6 billion) on national defense, four times the figure for Japan.

The draft notes that China’s increasing defense expenditures lack transparency, and the country’s wide-ranging and rapid strengthening of its military power cover its nuclear missile program and its seaborne and airborne forces.

Close scrutiny of moves by the United States, which is expected to review its global military posture under the Biden administration, is also needed, the draft says.

It urges continued vigilance over North Korea, describing the country as “a serious and imminent threat to our national security.”

North Korea test-fired a new ballistic missile in March.

As for Russia, the draft says Moscow “in recent years has deployed the latest equipment in the Far East.”