Please join the Jamestown Foundation on September 29 at 2:00 p.m. EDT for the virtual webinar, Warming Japan-Taiwan Relations: Implications for East Asia.

Like its American ally, Japan’s policy towards Taiwan is characterized by ambiguity. Official relations ended with Japan’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China in 1972, but Tokyo has since maintained strong unofficial ties with Taipei. However, unlike the United States, Japan has traditionally been reluctant to criticize China for pressuring Taiwan and has renounced selling arms to Taiwan.

Japan is unlikely to abandon the ambiguity in its relationship with Taiwan, but some recent indicators point to significant changes in Tokyo’s approach. These include increased direct engagement by Japanese leaders with their Taiwanese counterparts and a greater willingness to explicitly link Taiwan’s status to Japan’s own security. For example, in August, two politicians from the main Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) with leading positions in foreign and defense policy had discussions with their counterparts from the People’s Democratic Party (DPP) of Taiwan. In July, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Tokyo would interpret a Chinese move in Taiwan as a threat to Japan’s survival. Not surprisingly, China has reacted angrily to these developments. For example, in response to the aforementioned August “2 + 2” talks, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged “Japan to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and not to send bad signals to Taiwanese secessionists ”.

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David R. Stilwell
Former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs

Abraham Denmark
Director, Asia Program, Wilson Center

Yuki tatsumi
Senior Fellow and Co-Director, East Asia, Japan, Stimson Center

Russell hsiao
Executive Director, Global Taiwan Institute; Principal Investigator, The Jamestown Foundation


John S. Van Oudenaren
China Brief Editor, The Jamestown Foundation

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Participant biographies

David R. Stilwell served as Deputy Secretary of State in the Office of East Asia and Pacific Affairs between 2019 and 2021. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Secretary, he served in the Air Force for 35 years , starting as an enlisted Korean linguist in 1980, and retiring in 2015 with the rank of Brigadier General as Advisor for Asia to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. . He completed several periods of service in Japan and Korea as a linguist, fighter pilot and commander. He was also Defense Attaché at the US Embassy in Beijing, People’s Republic of China from 2011 to 2013. Mr. Stilwell led the China Strategic Focus Group at US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii from 2017 to 2019 and was Associate Principal Investigator at the East West Center in Honolulu from 2016 to 2019. He received a BA in History from the US Air Force Academy (1987) and an MA in Asian Studies and Chinese Language from the University of ‘Hawaii in Manoa (1988). He graduated in 2009 from the Executive Leadership Program at the Darden School at the University of Virginia. He received the Defense Ministry’s Senior Service Award in 2015. He speaks Korean, Chinese and limited Japanese.


Abraham Denmark is Director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he directs the Center’s research on the geopolitical dynamics of the Indo-Pacific region. He is also an adjunct associate professor at Georgetown University. Mr. Denmark is the author of US Strategy in the Asian Century: Empowering Allies and Partners (Columbia University Press). He has testified several times before the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and his commentary has appeared in several major media outlets, including Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Mr. Denmark previously served as Assistant Under Secretary of Defense for East Asia, where he advised the Secretary of Defense and other senior U.S. government officials on a wide range of issues of security related to East Asia, including the development and implementation of US defense strategies, plans, policies, declarations and activities in the region. In this role, Mr. Denmark strengthened the US military position in the region, oversaw US military relations with China, and managed DoD responses to multiple North Korean provocations. Prior to joining the Pentagon, Mr. Denmark was Senior Vice President of the National Bureau of Asian Research, where he was co-editor of the Strategic Asia reference book series. He has also held analyst positions at the Center for a New American Security and within the US intelligence community. In January 2017, Mr. Denmark received the Defense Secretary’s Medal for Outstanding Public Service. He was also awarded the Order of the Resplendent Banner of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and was appointed Honorary Rear Admiral of the Republic of Korea Navy. He has been named a 21st Century Leader by the National Committee on US Foreign Policy and is a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations and the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Denmark holds an MA from the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and a BA with Distinction from the University of Northern Colorado. He is pursuing a doctorate. at Kings College London, writing a thesis on the history of great power competition in the strategic periphery.


Yuki tatsumi is Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the Japan Program at the Stimson Center. Prior to joining Stimson, Ms. Tatsumi worked as a Research Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and as Special Assistant for Political Affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Washington. Ms. Tatsumi’s most recent publications include Balancing Between Nuclear Deterrence and Disarmament: Views from the Next Generation (ed .; Stimson Center, 2018) Lost in Translation? US Defense Innovation and Northeast Asia (Stimson Center, 2017). She is also the editor of four previous volumes of the Views from the Next Generation series: Peacebuilding and Japan (Stimson Center, 2017), Japan as a Peace Enabler (Stimson Center, 2016), Japan’s Global Diplomacy (Stimson Center, 2015), and the challenges of Japanese foreign policy in East Asia (Stimson Center, 2014). She is the author of Opportunity out of Necessity: The Impact of US Defense Budget Cuts on the US-Japan Alliance (Stimson Center, 2013), co-author of Global Security Watch: Japan (Praeger, 2010), author of Japan’s National Security Policy Infrastructure: Can Tokyo Meet Washington’s Expectations? (Stimson Center, 2008), and contributing editor / author of US-Japan-Australia Security Cooperation: Prospects and Challenges (Stimson Center, 2015), The New Nuclear Agenda: Prospects for US-Japan Cooperation (Stimson Center, 2012), Korea North: challenge for the American-Japanese alliance (Stimson Center, 2010), Strategic Yet Strained: US force realignment in Japan and its impact of Okinawa (Stimson Center, 2008) and Japan’s New Defense Establishment: Institutions, Capabilities and Implications ( Stimson Center, 2007). In September 2006, Ms. Tatsumi testified before the House Committee on International Relations. She is the recipient of the 2009 Yasuhiro Nakasone Incentive Award. In 2012, she received the Appreciation Letter from the Ministry of National Policy of Japan for her contribution to advancing mutual understanding between the United States and Japan. . Originally from Tokyo, Ms. Tatsumi holds a BA in Liberal Arts from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan and an MA in International Economics and Asian Studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS ) from Johns Hopkins University. in Washington.

Russell hsiao is Executive Director of the Global Taiwan Institute, Principal Investigator at the Jamestown Foundation and Associate Researcher at the Pacific Forum. He is a former National Endowment for Democracy Penn Kemble Fellow and Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Asian Studies at the University of Tokyo. Previously, he was a senior researcher at the Project 2049 Institute and in charge of national security at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Prior to these positions, he was Editor-in-Chief of China Brief at the Jamestown Foundation from October 2007 to July 2011 and Special Associate in the International Cooperation Department of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. During his law studies, he interned in the Office of the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and in the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center of the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Mr. Hsiao received his Juris Doctorate and Certificate from the Law and Technology Institute of the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Law and Technology at Catholic University. . He holds a BA in International Studies from the School of International Service at American University and the University Honors Program.

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