Japan is planning to highlight diplomatic initiatives advocated by assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in its long-term security policy guideline slated to be updated by the end of this year, a government source said Wednesday.
In the revised National Security Strategy, Tokyo will also mention that "no unilateral change of the status quo by force will be tolerated" over Taiwan, as China has been stepping up military provocation against the self-ruled democratic island.
Abe, who was fatally shot in July, is known for having proposed a security framework called the "Quad," involving Australia, India, Japan and the United States, and promoted a "free and open Indo-Pacific" to tackle China's growing regional assertiveness.
Such wordings are not clearly referred to in the current security strategy. By inheriting Abe's policy, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to try to work with other democratic countries for stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Beijing and Taipei have been governed separately since they split in 1949 as a result of a civil war. China regards Taiwan as a province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
China has been attempting to bolster its security and economic clout in the region to counter the Quad and the free and open Indo-Pacific blueprint, with President Xi Jinping repeatedly describing Taiwan as a "core interest."
If Japan revises the national strategy in a way that would irritate China, tensions between the two Asian powers could deteriorate further, eventually jeopardizing the security environment in the nearby waters, foreign affairs experts said.
Sino-Japanese relations have become frayed after Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister before resigning in 2020, said late last year that any emergency concerning Taiwan would be one for Japan and for the Japan-U.S. security alliance.
In Japan, meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Kishida, has set a goal of doubling the nation's defense spending to 2 percent or more of gross domestic product in the next five years as part of efforts to grapple with military threats from China.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party has criticized Japan's move, while lambasting the United States and its security allies for striving to build an "anti-China alliance in Asia" and establish an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Kishida, who has pledged to "fundamentally" strengthen Japan's defense capabilities, has convened an expert panel to discuss updating three key security-related government documents, including the National Security Strategy.
It would be the first revision of the security and diplomacy policy guideline since it was adopted in 2013, when Abe was in his second term as premier. Abe was the first to pitch the Quad and his free and open Indo-Pacific concept was later incorporated into U.S. strategy.
After Abe, a conservative hawk, was killed, the United States, Japan's most important security ally, praised his achievements, with President Joe Biden saying in a statement that the former leader's free and open Indo-Pacific vision will "endure."
For Japan, a contingency around the Taiwan Strait is of particular concern, given the proximity of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, a group of uninhabited islets administrated by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.
Taiwan has also become a source of U.S.-China strains. China has strongly opposed any official exchanges between the United States and Taiwan.
In early August, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the third-highest-ranking official of the country, visited Taiwan despite a harsh backlash from China.
Following Pelosi's visit, China carried out large-scale military drills in areas encircling Taiwan in retaliation, firing ballistic missiles, some of which fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea.