"Such talk reflects what diplomats and scholars call the defining drama of East Asia for the 21st century -- the competition for economic and political dominance in the region between Japan, the world's second-largest economy, and China, the world's most populous nation and a fast-developing economic and military power. "
Japan isacknowledging: that Taiwan is a mutual security concern of both the U.S. and Japan. The role of oil is the 900 pound gorilla in the room here. Like most of East Asia, Japan has no domestic oil resources. Most of the oil comes by way of a long, and vulnerable, route from the Middle East that passes through the Taiwan Straits. For China to control Taiwan would put them in position to strangle Japan. This was the U.S. strategy in the Second World War. In my first year here, I taught an old man who had memories of manning an anti-aircraft battery, shooting at American planes. These are just about all gone from the West coast here, but Hualien is still chock full of the fortified caves and bunkers from the era. In the end, the American air force took a tremendous toll on shipping in the era, which was a crucial factor in the outcome of the war.