Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida has spoken out against Chinese military drills near Taiwan, after five ballistic missiles landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Describing the situation as a “grave problem” and a threat to regional peace and security, Kishida said the live-fire exercises prompted by US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island must “stop immediately”.
Five Chinese missiles appeared to have landed in Japan’s EEZ close to the island of Hateruma, with four of the missiles believed to have flown over Taiwan’s main island. The zone extends up to 200 nautical miles (370km) from the country’s coastline, beyond the limits of its territorial waters.
“China’s actions this time around have a serious impact on the peace and stability of our region and the international community,” said Kishida, speaking after a breakfast meeting with Pelosi.
“I told her that we have called for the immediate cancellation of the military drills. We also confirmed a continued close cooperation to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
China is Japan’s main trading partner, but the two countries have found themselves at odds over the Senkakus – uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that are administered by Japan but claimed by China, where they are known as the Diaoyu.
While Tokyo is keen not to disrupt relations with Beijing, the fact Japan hosts tens of thousands of US troops is likely to see the nation drawn into any crisis that unfolds in the Taiwan Strait.