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Congratulations to Taiwan as Foreign Minister Seeks More Nongovernment Exchanges

FM Yoko Kamikawa lauded Taiwan for "the smooth implementation of the democratic election" while China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with Japan's message.



Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet to discuss responses to China and other issues on January 12 in Washington DC. (©Ministry of Foreign Affairs via Kyodo)

On January 13, the Foreign Ministry released a brief statement by Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa following the Taiwan presidential election held on the same day. Her statement came after confirmation of the victory of William Lai (Lai Ching-te) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). 

In her message, Kamikawa congratulated Lai and urged a peaceful resolution of the issue of China's relationship with Taiwan. The situation surrounding the Taiwan Strait has become increasingly tense as Chinese military pressure rises. Meanwhile, the Japanese government has been closely monitoring how China reacts in the wake of Taiwan's presidential election.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa on Nov. 26, 2023. (©Ahn Young-joon/Pool via REUTERS)

Foreign Minister's Message 

Kamikawa lauded "the smooth implementation of the democratic election" in her message. 

She added, "For Japan, Taiwan is an extremely crucial partner and an important friend, with which it shares fundamental values and enjoys close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges."

Tokyo's foreign minister also said that Japan aims "to further deepen cooperation and exchanges between Japan and Taiwan." 

Taiwan contingency
Image of a simulated attack on Taiwan from mainland China posted by the Chinese military's Eastern Theater Command on its official WeChat account on April 10, 2023. (©Kyodo)

China's Tension-Building Behavior

Due to China's increased military activity, tensions in the Taiwan Strait have increased significantly compared to the time of Taiwan's last presidential election four years ago. Current president Tsai Ing-wen (also of the DPP) was reelected at that time. 

Accordingly, Kamikawa's statement noted, "We expect that the issue surrounding Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through dialogue, thereby contributing to the peace and stability in the region."

The Taiwan situation was also a topic of discussion between Kamikawa and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Their conversation took place in Washington DC on January 12 (local time). Both diplomatic heads emphasized the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. 

Guests waive Japanese and Taiwanese flags while cheering at the "Japan Seafood Festival, Banquet for One Thousand" event on December 25 in Taipei. (©JAPAN Forward by Yasuo Naito)

Ties Between Taiwan and Japan

In the past, Lai has stressed the importance of ties with Japan. Furthermore, his administration will no doubt seek to strengthen cooperation with Japan. However, Japan and Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic relations. Nor does a framework exist for official dialogue between the two countries. 

In the future, the issue of how to advance Japan-Taiwan cooperation in preparation for emergencies must be tackled. That means contingencies such as the evacuation of Japanese nationals or the acceptance of Taiwanese evacuees.


Four years ago, high officials in Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom congratulated President Tsai on her election to a second term. Afterward, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson expressed "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition." 

It used the same expression after Lai's election as well. "We express strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to this, and have lodged solemn representations with the Japanese side," the embassy said, according to Reuters.

Japanese officials believe that since Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to unify Taiwan with China, its moves must be watched carefully. 


(Read the report in Japanese.)

Author: Takao Harakawa

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