0120: U.S. and Japan to Jointly Stockpile Munitions Near Taiwan, U.S.’ Indo-Pacific Economic Pact, Slovenia and Taiwan to Open Offices

U.S. And Japan Discuss Jointly Stockpiling Munitions, Including Near Taiwan

The U.S. and Japan are in talks to stockpile munitions in each other’s military facilities across Japan, including islands near Taiwan, to prepare for contingencies, according to a report by Nikkei Asia. If the plan is realized, the U.S. would get access to bases near Taiwan, allowing it to quickly deploy weapons in the event of a conflict.

The issue of joint usage of facilities was discussed in last week’s U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee two-plus-two meeting of foreign and defense ministers. The Ministers “committed to increase joint/shared use of U.S. and Japanese facilities, including efforts to strengthen Japan Self-Defense Forces’ posture in areas including its southwestern islands,” the two sides said in a joint statement after the meeting.

Joint use of facilities includes the stockpiling of munitions and shared use of runways, Nikkei cited a source familiar with the talks. “There was progress on this issue so it was written into the joint statement,” the person said.

Japan’s “southwestern islands” (known as Nansei Islands in Japanese) are a chain that stretches from the southernmost tip of Kyushu to the north of Taiwan. The westernmost of the Nansei Islands, Yonaguni, lies only 108 km (about 67 miles) from the east coast of Taiwan.

If the plan is realized, the allies would have stockpiles of munitions that can quickly be deployed and replenished in Taiwan’s immediate neighborhood, Nikkei reported.

Precision-guided missiles would likely play a pivotal role in any conflict in the Taiwan Strait. With an accuracy reportedly less than 3 meters, precision-guided munitions are seen as vital to overcoming China’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy, which seeks to keep the U.S. and allied forces out of the East and South China seas.

For a Taiwan operation, “there is a need to ensure that stockpiles are established to support not just the initial onset of operations, but the subsequent forces flowing into Japan from the continental United States and Hawaii,” Jeffrey Hornung, a senior political scientist at Rand Corp., said.

Currently, the types of munitions that the U.S. military fears could fall short include Joint Air-to-Surface Strike Munition (JASSM), Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), and the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM), according to Nikkei.

These three types of munitions “are being procured in relatively small quantities, given their potential use rates in a high-intensity conflict scenario, along with the time it would take for replacement spent munitions once initial inventories are exhausted,” a Congressional Research Service report warned in June last year.

[1] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/U.S.-and-Japan-to-jointly-stockpile-munitions-including-near-Taiwan
[2] Formosa TV: https://englishnews.ftv.com.tw/read.aspx?sno=FD030D12F02FCB1D395175B99032482B

Taiwan Eyes Joining U.S.’ Indo-Pacific Economic Pact

Taiwan is seeking to join an Indo-Pacific economic framework being planned by the United States. Washington aims to establish “common goals” on economic cooperation with Indo-Pacific countries in early 2022, as the U.S. seeks to counter China’s influence in the region, a senior U.S. policy official for China said.

President Joe Biden told Asian leaders in October last year that Washington would launch talks on creating an Indo-Pacific economic framework, but few details have emerged from the administration.

Nevertheless, on January 19, White House senior director for China Laura Rosenberger told a webinar that discussions with partners in recent months had helped “crystallize” the Biden administration’s thinking on how to pursue such a regional economic framework.

“Our initial ideas on proposed areas of economic cooperation include trade facilitation, digital economy standards, supply-chain resiliency, infrastructure, decarbonization and clean energy, export controls, tax and anti-corruption,” Rosenberger said.

“And we will continue to focus on establishing common goals and end states that we would jointly announce in the coming months, early period of 2022,” she added without giving details, while stressing the importance both of promoting a free and open region and protecting American workers.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s government is paying close attention to the regional economic pact being touted by President Biden, a senior Taiwanese official said earlier.

The U.S. has shown deep concern over semiconductor supply-chain issues, while Taiwan is a leading chipmaker and has an interest in enhancing ties between the two countries, the official added.

A push to enter the framework is not expected to negatively affect Taiwan’s ability to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as the organizations would not overlap and their goals are not in conflict.

Speaking at an event in December last year, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said that Taiwan’s technological innovation and agile economy show that the country should play an indispensable role in the Indo-Pacific economic framework.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2022/01/17/2003771523
[2] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/business/us-set-common-goals-indo-pacific-economic-cooperation-early-2022-2022-01-19/

Slovenian PM Calls Taiwan a “Country,” Backs Opening Trade Offices

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has called Taiwan a “country” and supported Taiwanese people’s right to determine their own future. He said his country is in talks with Taiwan to open trade offices in each other’s territory.

On January 17, Prime Minister Jansa said in an interview that Taiwan is a “democratic country” that respects international democratic standards and international laws. He added that Slovenia and Taiwan are working on “exchanging representatives,” although they “will not be on the level of embassies.”

Nonetheless, he did not indicate whether Slovenia would follow Lithuania’s model on the name that Taiwan would use for a representative office in Slovenia.

Lithuania has let Taiwan call its office the “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania” rather than the standard “Taipei Representative Office.” And that triggered heavy retaliation from China as Beijing considered that the designation implied Taiwan is a sovereign country.

Jansa did not see the name as an issue, and felt China’s reaction and retaliation against Lithuania went overboard.

“China has protested every time some European countries established such offices [with Taiwan], but they never went as far as they did in this case. It’s terrifying trying to isolate a small country that also fought for its independence 30 years ago,” he said.

Jansa said that he had visited Taiwan four or five times, and that he holds the view that the people of Taiwan should have the right to determine their own future.

“If they want to join China, if it’s their free will without any pressure, without any military intervention and without any blackmailing, without strategic cheating as it is happening in Hong Kong currently, then we will support it. But if Taiwanese people want to live independently, we are here to support also this position,” the Slovenian leader said.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou welcomed the Slovenian government’s plan to open a representative office, adding that the ministry appreciated Jansa’s “insightful” remarks for speaking the truth on international issues.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202201180005
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/01/19/2003771646