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In a recent meeting held in Tokyo, US and Japan defence chiefs have agreed to closely co-operate in the event of a military clash between China and Taiwan.

The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin brought up the issue when he held talks with his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi on Tuesday, though there was no discussion about how their countries should co-operate in the event of such an emergency, sources said.

Tokyo’s policy on cross-strait relations has been to encourage a peaceful dialogue to mitigate tensions. Japan recognised the People’s Republic of China in 1972 but maintains relations with Taiwan via the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association.

China and Taiwan split off in 1949 after a civil war and China continues to regard it as a province awaiting unification.

Regarding Taiwan issues, a statement issued after talks by Kishi and Austin as well as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi also held on Tuesday, called for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

In the earlier meeting with Austin, Kishi referred to a recent increase in the number of Chinese war planes crossing the median line in the Taiwan Strait and a need to study ways for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to cooperate with U.S. forces defending Taiwan in the event of China’s aggression, they said.

Though Japan doesn’t have any official military agreement with Taiwan, over the past two decades Tokyo has tweaked domestic security policies and constitutional interpretations and has revised the guidelines for US-Japan defence co-operation which expands the scope of activities that the Japanese Self-Defence Forces (SDF) are theoretically allowed to perform and the geographical areas in which they can operate.

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