Image copyright Reuters Image caption Shinzo Abe raised fears of possible military action in the South China Sea
A former Japanese prime minister has warned of a “Taiwan emergency” if China and Taiwan did not resolve their current disputes.
In comments that drew anger from Beijing, Yasuo Fukuda told a seminar in Tokyo the two sides should begin talks aimed at an eventual unification.
Mr Fukuda’s visit comes amid growing tension between Beijing and Taipei, including a row over airspace.
China claims the self-ruled island of Taiwan and doesn’t recognise the democratically elected government in Taipei.
Beijing demands that Taipei halt plans to upgrade military capabilities. It fears that could lead to a shift in political allegiance.
In comments first published by Kyodo news agency, Mr Fukuda said Japan’s government should try to “help normalise relations between the two sides, by explaining China’s concerns clearly”.
He added that Japan should not tolerate a potential “Taiwan emergency” happening.
In a later interview with the Japan Times, he had a thinly veiled warning for the new, rising assertiveness of President Xi Jinping.
“Each successive term [of leadership by Mr Xi] has been distinguished by increasing his official presence in areas. This trend has been noticed by the surrounding countries as well,” Mr Fukuda was quoted as saying.
“More attention is now being paid to Xi Jinping’s overseas visits, and China’s attempts to ‘do something’ have become louder hissing when they occur, because they come with the backing of a world power.
“In other words, China does not hesitate to use its power, including the use of military force, in places where it deems that peace is not feasible.”
Mr Fukuda, who left office in 2012, in a 2012 speech at the Brookings Institution also raised fears of China, saying there could be a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
“The world is just now waking up to the US military’s past practice in the South China Sea and the threat it poses to Chinese naval power,” he said.