Written by Staff Writer, CNN
In a rare public appearance, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged China to worry about Taiwan, rather than its own situation.
In a wide-ranging interview with the state-run Xinhua news agency, Abe, who made his comments during a visit to China on Tuesday, said the island chain — which hosts US military facilities — was so important to Japanese national interests that Japan must guard against hostile intentions.
“Even though the Chinese government claims the island state of Taiwan is part of China, I think it’s necessary for them to bear in mind that Taiwan is such a vital island state that a Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency,” he said.
“Taiwan is our island, and we will do our utmost to safeguard our rights and interests there.”
Abe said that while Japan and China were shouldering different responsibilities towards North Korea, Washington’s leading role in the Pacific gave it a strong hand.
He added: “I would like to underline the fact that China must pay attention to the fact that North Korea is developing an ICBM with a range in excess of 6,500 kilometers (4,267 miles). North Korea has built a nuclear and missile program that threatens the United States.”
Abe’s remarks come after Beijing dismissed international pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear program, following a fifth test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by Pyongyang.
The United Nations has already imposed numerous rounds of sanctions on North Korea in the hopes of forcing it to abandon its nuclear program, but China has been widely criticized for violating the measures by investing in North Korean companies and expanding trade.
Washington and Tokyo, meanwhile, have been attempting to pressure Beijing into using its influence to persuade North Korea to abandon its weapons program.
Abe was elected Japan’s sixth prime minister in 2013, and previously served as Abe’s cabinet minister for defense and ex-premier.
He resigned as prime minister in September 2015 amid an “LDP stain” following news that his wife’s office had received a large gift of euros from a businessman convicted of tax evasion.
Abe has also faced criticism for his questionable links to a Japanese business class school in Florida which is connected to a charitable foundation linked to the Koch brothers.