Japan ’s growing concerns about China’s maritime strength , and the strategic importance Tokyo places on Taiwan , will be among the significant features of the 2021 defence white paper that it is expected to be released next month. A draft shown to policymakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party several weeks ago, and referenced in the Japanese Asahi newspaper this week, describes stability in the Taiwan Strait as crucial for Japan. It will be the first time the self-ruled island has been named in the annual paper, and comes as more Western nations and their allies warn China about its rising military pressure on what Beijing describes as a breakaway province. Japan-South Korea spat at G7 highlights Biden’s challenge in building united front against China According to media reports, the paper will point out that the Chinese military has become more active close to the self-ruled island and that such operations are “a strong concern in terms of security for the region, including Japan, and the international community.” It also states that China spends an estimated 20 trillion yen (US$180.7 billion) on defence annually, four times the figure Japan allocates to its Self-Defence Forces. Tensions surrounding Taiwan have been aggravated by the deepening competition and hostility between the United States and China , including in the field of cutting-edge technology, and the white paper states that “stabilising the Taiwan situation is important for Japan’s national security and stabilisation of the international community”. On Tuesday, China’s air force sent 28 warplanes into the island’s air defence identification zone, a day after a US aircraft carrier held drills in the disputed South China Sea . Several days previously, at the G7 summit in Britain earlier this week, the group for the first time issued a statement mentioning Taiwan and emphasising the importance of “peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”. Ben Ascione, an assistant professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Waseda University, said the white paper’s singling out of China and the inclusion for the first time of Taiwan was unsurprising given that US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had earlier this month issued a joint statement using the same language in calling for “peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”. “It comes as no surprise, but is certainly more explicit than previous white papers,” he said. “It was a big deal when Taiwan was named in the Biden-Suga joint statement, so this is not a change in policy but a clearer emphasis on the importance of regional stability.” Will G7 climate pledge prompt Asian governments to ditch coal or lean more heavily on China? China has increasingly been seen as a longer term and more serious threat to Japan than nuclear-armed North Korea , with last year’s white paper describing “relentless” intrusions by Chinese ships in waters claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo. Analysts have warned that both sides risk miscalculations that could lead to conflict over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. The uninhabited islands are known as the Senkakus in Japan, which controls them. In the Biden-Suga meeting, both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to counter China’s “intimidation” in the East and South China Seas. Political scientist Jeffrey Hornung of the Rand Corporation think-tank, in a recent research paper sponsored by the Pentagon, said Japan would play a large role in keeping Chinese naval assets hemmed into shallow coastal waters if conflict were to break out between Beijing and Washington and its allies. Tokyo’s advanced diesel-electric attack submarines should be deployed to “control the choke points” between the islands off southern Japan and prevent China’s surface and submarine units from sortieing into the Pacific, he wrote, adding that this would make them easier to locate and destroy and free up the US Navy to confront the Chinese military elsewhere. The research paper also says units that can be deployed rapidly should be based in the region, while “critical assets” such as surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship weapons and Patriot anti-missile systems would augment the country’s submarine capabilities. Together with “well-laid sea mines”, these would help create critical chokepoints to deny China freedom to manoeuvre. An analyst at Japan’s National Institute of Defence Studies, who spoke on condition of anonymity, concurred that deploying the country’s submarines in the event of a conflict “would be one of the most effective ways for Japan to protect its national security”. “One of the major tactics will be for Japan and the US to cooperate to prevent Chinese forces from getting into the Western Pacific through the first island chain,” the official told This Week in Asia , referring to the chain formed by Japan to the north, the Okinawa islands, Taiwan and the Philippine archipelago. “If those vessels can get into the Pacific, then the submarines can go into deep water and it will be very difficult to find them again.” That would endanger any US warships or allied vessels approaching the conflict zone from Hawaii or the west coast of the US, he pointed out. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in April advanced the concept of “integrated deterrence”, which calls on Washington’s allies to work together in preparation for a future war that will be significantly different from any past conflict.