In an account of the 2+2 talks posted on his personal blog, Sato said that the LDP group brought its recommendations to the table. The conference lasted 90 minutes, a half hour longer than planned, with the legislators discussing how Tokyo and Taipei could strengthen cooperation based on planning for a possible “Taiwan emergency”.
The Japanese side also raised the importance of Taiwan participating in World Health Organization (WHO) activities to enable it to confront the Covid-19 pandemic effectively. They urged Taiwan to apply as soon as possible to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the most ambitious rules-based trade agreement across the Asia-Pacific region, which Japan led to conclusion after the US withdrew from the pact in 2017. Given the absence of official diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Taipei, party-to-party diplomacy becomes more relevant. “This framework could be effective if the ruling-party lawmakers formulate common goals and then make proposals to the governments,” said Sato.
The perspective on the Taiwan Strait of Sato and his colleagues, which reflects the views of the Japanese political, business and academic mainstream, could have a strong influence the next Japanese prime minister for two reasons. First, solidarity and closer cooperation with Taiwan in the face of the difficulties of managing the relationship with China would be a popular policy for the new administration. Second, doing so would fit with the emerging Biden strategy in the Indo-Pacific and the approach to Beijing.
Washington is of course Tokyo’s most important ally. The Biden administration has been quick to signal its aim to strengthen its relationship with Taipei and support Taiwan’s efforts to expand its international space even as Beijing has sought to block them.
In April, the president sent to Taiwan an unofficial bipartisan delegation of retired senior officials – Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state in the administration of George W Bush; James Steinberg, who held the same job when Barack Obama was president; and Christopher Dodd, who served as a senator from 1981 to 2011. “I can tell you one thing about President Biden’s administration,” Armitage told Tsai when they met her. “He has only one purpose in mind, and it’s not vexation. His purpose is only to support the continuation of this great democracy, which you all have built and which you are now leading.”