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More Taiwan-Japan security, military exchanges urged

TAIPEI -- Lawmakers from Taiwan and Japan called for more security and military exchanges between their two countries to confront challenges in the region, at an international conference in Taipei on Tuesday.

Taiwanese lawmaker Hsiao Bi-khim of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said she hoped that in the face of the rise of China, Japan would increase military exchanges with Taiwan, including transferring military technology and sharing Japan's experience in using an all volunteer military.

She also suggested that security dialogue be incorporated into the formulation of a Japanese version of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), in an effort to build closer security ties between the two countries.

The TRA was enacted on April 10, 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The law pledges to help ensure peace, security and stability in the Western Pacific and to promote the foreign policy of the U.S. It also obliges the U.S. “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.”

Hsiao made the remarks at a session of the one-day Taiwan-U.S.-Japan Trilateral Security Dialogue forum, which was attended by lawmakers from Taiwan, Japan and the United States.

Speaking about the risk China brings to the region, Japanese lawmaker Keisuke Suzuki of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said that security cooperation between Taiwan, Japan and the U.S. is very important.

He agreed with Hsiao that Taiwan and Japan should increase security and military cooperation.

Although it will be difficult to add security clauses to a potential Japanese version of the TRA, some steps are needed, he said. A Japanese version of the TRA is still being discussed within the LDP, he told local media on the sidelines of the conference.

“Taiwan is an important strategic partner of Japan,” he said.

Other participants in the session were Taiwanese lawmaker Chiang Chi chen of the ruling Kuomintang, U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman of the Republican Party, and Japanese lawmaker Taku Otsuka of the LDP.

Now in its fourth year, the forum is also being attended by more than 20 scholars from Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, India, Australia, South Korea and the U.S. who will discuss issues of security and regional economic integration.

Commissioned by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the conference is being co-organized by Taipei's Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research, Washington-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Institute for International Policy Studies in Tokyo.

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