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June 23, 2017

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Japan defense shift aims to revise US pact: think tank

TAIPEI -- Japan's decision last week to lift a ban on the use of "collective self-defense" is a first step in a bid to revise the longstanding U.S.-Japan security cooperation treaty this year, an official of a Taiwanese think tank with ties to the major opposition party said Tuesday.

Liu Shih-chung, CEO of Taiwan Brain Trust, was speaking at a seminar organized by his think tank, which was founded by senior Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member and outspoken independence activist Koo Kwang-ming.

Liu expressed support for the move, adding he hopes that Japan will become a responsible leader, a peace keeper and an advocate of democracy in the region.

Japan's lifting of the ban on the use of its armed forces was a planned move that came after discussions between Tokyo and Washington, he asserted.

It conforms to U.S. troop deployment plans in the Asia-Pacific region and the eventual goal of strengthening the security relationship embodied in the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, he said.

He also said he hopes that relations between Taiwan and Japan can be clearly defined as a partnership for democracy and peace, and that when the Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation are revised at the end of this year, they will account for the situation across the Taiwan Strait.

Meanwhile, he called on the Japanese government to quicken the pace for negotiating and signing a free trade agreement with Taiwan.

Commenting on a call for the Japanese government to pass a counterpart to the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act, Liu said he hopes any legislation will be in line with the theory and practice of the one passed by U.S. lawmakers in 1979.

The Taiwan Relations Act requires the United States to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and help in matters of national defense.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's unprecedented push for the right to collective self-defense has drawn the attention of many regional neighbors, including Taiwan.

President Ma Ying-jeou cautioned last week that the move could cause Japan's tense relations with China to deteriorate.

On Monday, over 100 protesters gathered outside the Japanese representative office in Taipei to draw a connection between Japan's apparent move toward militarization and the incident that sparked the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937.

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