Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo remarked on Wednesday that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be an “emergency” meriting a response from both Japan and the United States.
The Chinese government erupted in fury, summoning the Japanese ambassador to complain about Abe’s “wrong remarks” and threatening Japan with destruction if it dares to challenge Chinese military might.
Abe, who resigned as prime minister in August 2020 due to health concerns, on Wednesday addressed a virtual forum hosted by the Institute for National Policy Research, an organization based in Taiwan’s capital of Taipei.
During his remarks, Abe discussed Japan’s national security concerns over Chinese territorial aggression, including the contested Senkaku Islands, which are a little over 60 miles from Taiwan.
“A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-U.S. alliance. People in Beijing, President Xi Jinping in particular, should never have a misunderstanding in recognizing this,” Abe said.
“An assault on Taiwan poses great danger to Japanese territory. Japan would not allow such a scenario,” he said.
“Japan, Taiwan and all the people who believe in democracy need to keep urging President [sic] Xi Jinping and other Chinese Communist Party leaders repeatedly not to step onto a wrong path,” he advised.
Abe warned China that invading Taiwan would be tantamount to “economic suicide.”
“A stronger Taiwan, a thriving Taiwan, and a Taiwan that guarantees freedom and human rights are also in Japan’s interests. Of course, this is also in the interests of the whole world,” he concluded.
Abe might have been deliberately needling Beijing with his choice of words since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is very fond of saying anyone who disagrees with its agenda is following the “wrong path.”
If trolling China was Abe’s goal on Wednesday, he clearly succeeded. The Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned Japan’s ambassador for an “emergency meeting” over Abe’s comments within hours of the forum.
According to Chinese officials, the Foreign Ministry lectured Japanese Ambassador Tarumi Hideo about Abe’s “erroneous” remarks, which “openly challenged China’s sovereignty and gave brazen support to Taiwan independence forces.”
At a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu said China’s summons of the ambassador was inappropriate. He said Tarumi responded by telling the Chinese they must understand “there are people in Japan who have such opinions and Japan cannot accept China’s one-sided views on such matters.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Abe “babbled utter nonsense” and “made presumptuous remarks about China’s internal affairs.”
“Taiwan is China’s sacred territory, where no external interference shall be tolerated. During its colonial rule over Taiwan for half a century, Japan committed innumerable crimes, over which it has grave historical responsibilities to the Chinese people,” Wang thundered.
“No one should underestimate the strong resolve, determination and capability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Those who dare to pursue the old path of militarism and challenge our bottom line will find themselves on a collision course with the Chinese people!” he threatened.
In a comment that appears to have been deleted from the Foreign Ministry’s official transcript of his press conference, Wang added that anyone who crosses China’s “red lines” will “have their heads broken and bloodied” – a phrase taken from a belligerent speech given by dictator Xi Jinping to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party in July.
The CCP’s Global Times pitched in with a blustery editorial on Thursday warning Abe that he was “playing with fire” by antagonizing China.
“Abe may have wanted to say these evil words for quite a long time. But Japanese authorities by no means dare to roar like this against China. Abe could only flaunt such nonsense to please himself after leaving office – and this reflects his anxiety and sense of loss on his downward path. If Japan adopts such a policy regarding the island of Taiwan, it would be Japan’s suicide, and not just an economic one,” the Chinese state newspaper sputtered.
“Right-wing politicians in Japan should be aware that the balance of power between China and Japan has completely reversed. The old dream that Japan could colonize and bully China should be cut off,” the Global Times sneered.
After ranting for a while about Abe’s supposed genetic links to Japanese imperialists, the hyperventilating Global Times returned to threats: “Abe said China’s national defense budget is four times higher than Japan’s. Thus, he should have a sober head: Japan’s rash intervention when there is a ‘Taiwan emergency’ will be like throwing toothpicks at the mountain – it will definitely invite a devastating response from China.”
“Whether Japan can avoid being led by people like Abe on the wrong path against China will test the collective wisdom and emotional quotient of the entire Japanese society,” the editorial concluded, returning to that favored “wrong path” verbiage Abe impishly turned against the Chinese.