Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that an attack on a U.S. military vessel in any contingency concerning Taiwan could become a situation allowing Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense.
During a virtual appearance at a Taiwan think-tank event on Dec. 1, Abe said that any Taiwan contingency would also be an emergency for Japan and for the Japan-U.S. security alliance, stressing the need to keep pushing for clarity on the issue with Chinese leadership.
Abe elaborated on his earlier remarks on a TV program aired Monday, saying, "In the event of an attack on a U.S. vessel, it could be a situation posing a threat to Japan's survival, which would allow the exercise of collective self-defense."
Pointing out that Yonaguni Island -- Japan's westernmost territory -- is only 110 kilometers away from Taiwan, he said, "If something happens here, it will definitely become a crucial situation" affecting Japan's peace and security as stipulated in the country's security legislation.
With such a condition met, Japan's Self-Defense Forces would be allowed to extend logistical support to the U.S. military.
His earlier remarks on Taiwan drew criticism from China, which regards the self-ruled island as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Communist-led China and Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 as the result of a civil war.
Abe stepped down as prime minister in 2020 after nearly eight years in the post, but he still heads the largest faction within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.