BEIJING—China on Tuesday criticized Japan's senior vice defense minister for having "openly referred to Taiwan as a country," saying it has conveyed its "strong dissatisfaction" to the neighboring nation.
Self-governed, democratic Taiwan is usually called a "region" in Japan, with the Communist-led Chinese government claiming the island is an "inalienable part" of its territory and regarding it as a renegade province.
China urges Japan "to become more cautious in words and deeds" on Taiwan affairs and "to avoid sending wrong signals" to the island's independence forces, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing.
Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also referred to Taiwan as a country, immediately drawing fire from mainland China.
On Monday, Japanese senior vice defense minister Yasuhide Nakayama warned of a growing threat posed by Chinese and Russian collaboration and said it was necessary to "wake up" to Beijing's pressure on Taiwan and protect the island "as a democratic country," according to Reuters.
Speaking to the Hudson Institute think tank, Nakayama questioned whether the decision of many countries, including Japan and the United States, to follow a "one-China" policy that has recognized Beijing over Taipei since the 1970s would stand the test of time, Reuters reported.
Taiwan and mainland China have been separately governed since they split in 1949 as a result of a civil war. Their relationship has deteriorated since independence-leaning Tsai Ing-wen became Taiwan's president in 2016.
While Tokyo severed diplomatic ties with Taipei and established them with Beijing in 1972, Taiwan and Japan have continued to maintain relations due primarily to economic cooperation by the private sector.
FROM THE ARCHIVES