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US, Japan to draft plans for Taiwan, NKorea crises: reports|
Agence France-Presse | Jan 4, 2007
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Japan and the United States are considering joint plans to coordinate the response of their armed forces if China invades Taiwan or North Korea strikes Japan, news reports have said.
US and Japanese defense and foreign affairs officials would next month start studying various scenarios of military confrontation in Taiwan, reflecting US unease over China's growing military power, the Kyodo News agency reported.
The plan would consider a possible Taiwanese declaration of independence and the use by China of military force against the island, according to the report, which cited unnamed US and Japanese government sources.
Possible cooperation could include the provision by Japanese troops of supplies and logistical support to the US military, as well as rescue missions for missing US soldiers and ship inspections, Kyodo said.
Japan's Defense Agency also wanted a broader plan to look at the risk of violence spreading to Japanese territory such as the Okinawa region or the disputed Senkaku islands, called the Diaoyus by China, it added.
The Asahi Shimbun said Washington and Tokyo began in December drafting a military plan to deal with a possible crisis in the Korean peninsula, including a North Korean missile attack on Japan.
Under those plans, to be completed this year, Japan could search for missing US troops and provide military supplies, the newspaper said, citing unnamed officials in both countries.
"It seems that sentiment has grown stronger in the United States that they want to prepare for the unexpected, after seeing things like the North Korean nuclear test in October 2006," a Japanese official told the Asahi.
The US government wanted the Korean plan to be completed by the second half of 2007 in light of Pyongyang's nuclear test last year, the Asahi said.
A spokeswoman at Japan's Defense Agency declined to comment on the reports.
Japan's decision to go ahead with the Taiwan study is believed to reflect the pro-Taiwan stance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to Kyodo.
The US and Japan angered China in February 2005 with a joint declaration that easing tensions in the Taiwan Strait was part of their "common strategic objectives".
Under US legislation -- the Taiwan Relations Act -- Washington is required to provide Taiwan with "arms of a defensive character" in the event of a Chinese invasion of the island.
Sino-Japanese ties have been badly strained in recent years, in part over former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to a Tokyo shrine seen by other Asian nations as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.