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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 16:19, September 21, 2004
Taiwan intends to ask for anti-submarine help from Japan
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Japan's P-3C anti-sub aircraft on patrol

Taiwan leaders talk wildly about "military alliance" with Japan
Taiwan "president" Chen Shui-bian declared openly when meeting with Japanese House of Representatives members that the "two countries" were best partners and allies, not only "allies in values" and "economic and trade partners" but also "military allies", Taiwan media reported on September 12. Earlier, on August 20, Japan allowed reporters from Taiwan-based ETtoday.com onto its warship of the Self-Defense Forces, from where Taiwan reporters watched an exercise in Yokosuka.

High-ranking Taiwan officials stated that the military pays high attention to the anti-submarine capability of Japan's SDF, and made no attempt to conceal their desire for Japanese help in this regard. Taiwan's "Foreign Ministry" officials even said recently that military cooperation between Taiwan and Japan should be strengthened so that once a cross-Straits conflict breaks out Japan can offer particularly anti-sub help to Taiwan in the face of mainland submarine threats. The talks by Taiwan officials recently have roused high attention and alarm.

Why Taiwan favors Japan's SDF?
The primary reason why Taiwan hopes for Japanese anti-sub help in war time is the first-class anti-sub capability possessed by Japan's SDF, military experts analyzed. Japan Maritime Self Defense Force has long been paying high attention to anti-sub combats due to the country's geographical features and a long-term threat from the powerful Pacific Fleet of the former Soviet Union. During the mid 1980s, the Force set up four "8-8 fleets", meaning each fleet consists 8 destroyers and 8 anti-sub helicopters. Currently Japan is making all-out efforts in building "9-9 fleet" (to add one destroyer and one helicopter) or "10-9 fleet" (to add two destroyers and one helicopter). Four Kongo-class Aegis missile destroyers will be introduced, which are equipped with sophisticated electronic devices and able to automatically detect and trace 200 targets within the range of 400 km and attack simultaneously more than 10 of them. "Seahawk" helicopters will also replace the "Sea King" helicopters carried on the destroyers. Especially regarding anti-sub operations, Japan has possessed an all-round capability at shore, on water surface, under water and in the air, with its outfits and tactics nothing short of American ones.

Moreover, Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force boasts 20-strong submarines, most of them equipped with advanced anti-sub devices. The American military believes that Japan is already able to fulfill anti-sub patrolling and mobile operations within 1,000 nautical miles. A high-ranking SDF official even openly declared, "Japan is now fully capable of independently maintaining high sea traffic around the country".

Secondly, on top of the military strength of Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force, the geographical locations of Japan and Taiwan provide realistic conditions for help. According to American estimations, there is only a distance of 700 km between Japan's Naha Base and Taiwan's Jilong Port, while the Okinawa Base is only 200-odd km from Taiwan. So, compared with American Pacific Fleet as far as in Guam, Japan will cut down 60 percent of time in rushing to Taiwan's aid. As Taiwan media reported, due to long-term attention to the Malacca waterway, Japan has accumulated large quantities of hydrologic and meteorological data on waters surrounding Taiwan, which well prepares the country to the combat environment of the Taiwan Straits so that it would meet no difficulties in "playing an away game".

Anti-sub cooperation between Taiwan, Japan inherently flawed
The Taiwan military's blindly pinning hopes on cooperation with Japan is intrinsically flawed since Japan's SDF has many weak points, military experts also pointed out.

Firstly, if Japan takes part in anti-sub actions to help Taiwan, it means Japan has entered a state of war with the mainland. An all-round war is wrestling of comprehensive strength yet anti-sub is only a part of it. If Japan goes to war recklessly, its naval and air bases on its metropolitan territory would face attacks from ballistic and cruise missiles as well as airmen of PLA. Meanwhile, Japan's marine transportation may be blocked, seriously affecting industry and people's life. This may cause changes in domestic political and social situations and greatly increase the risk and cost of Japanese interference.

Secondly, there exists much uncertainty in the degree and mode of American military's involving in a possible cross-Straits conflict. It seems quite doubtful whether the United States will stand out to protect Taiwan at the risk of tens of thousands American soldiers' lives. Under such circumstances, Japan will not move rashly to support Taiwan politically and militarily.

Moreover, since Taiwan was once a colony of Japan and the Taiwan question is an internal affair of China, if Taiwan to ask Japan to help fight against the mainland, the renegade act will inevitably rouse strong indignation among Chinese both at home and abroad.

By People's Daily Online


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