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Terrorist attacks likely before China invasion: Ex-Japanese officer

06/15/2024 08:10 PM
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Hirotaka Yamashita, a retired Japanese Lieutenant General, speaks at a press event in Taipei Saturday. CNA photo June 15, 2024
Hirotaka Yamashita, a retired Japanese Lieutenant General, speaks at a press event in Taipei Saturday. CNA photo June 15, 2024

Taipei, June 15 (CNA) Terrorist activities within Taiwan and attempts to assassinate the country's president would be likely ahead of a Chinese military invasion of Taiwan, a retired vice chief of the Japanese ground staff predicted Saturday.

The terrorist activities would involve bombs being planted on presidential vehicles and at major metro stations in Taipei, retired Japanese Lieutenant General Hirotaka Yamashita said at a press event in Taipei to pitch the new Chinese-language version of his book on how China might invade Taiwan.

Yamashita, who formerly served as the vice chief of staff of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, was referencing a chapter in the book, which includes several tabletop wargames exploring invasion scenarios based on Yamashita's assessments.

Drawing on Japan-North Korea relations, Yamashita said three types of people could carry out attacks in Taiwan: people politically aligned with China, mercenaries, and Chinese who seem to have assimilated with Taiwanese but who secretly engage in spying.

Although precautions should be taken to prepare for these potential scenarios, neither Taiwan, Japan nor the United States would be able to entirely eliminate the possibility, Yamashita said.

These terrorist activities would be aimed at shaking the Taiwanese public's faith in its government and influence public opinion, he said.

The government, in turn, should publish factual and up-to-date information, and the public, no matter how politically polarized, should do their best to trust the government during such times, he said.

CNA photo June 15, 2024
CNA photo June 15, 2024

In his book, Yamashita included a time frame of a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, which he said is likely to take place between 2035 and 2050.

By then, Yamashita argued, China's nuclear arsenal would likely rival that of the U.S., and the gap in nuclear deterrence between the two countries will likely have been eliminated.

Until then, China is resigned to adopting a "peaceful re-unification" stance on Taiwan, he believed.

Citing the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Yamashita said it was evident that an aggressor with nuclear weapons is "unstoppable."

Unlike in the Russia-Ukraine war, however, in which Russia would be using nuclear force against a foreign country, China would be able to frame its use of nuclear weapons on Taiwan as a way to tackle "domestic affairs," he said.

Yamashita presented one scenario in which he foresaw China potentially using nuclear weapons against Taiwan.

It would happen after the People's Liberation Army has imposed a blockade around the island of Taiwan but its East Theater Command is dragged into a protracted war by Taiwanese forces in eastern Taiwan fighting back from behind the Central Mountain Range using drones.

With the Central Mountain Range serving as a barrier, U.S. troops would be able to replenish Taiwanese forces from the east coast, but this could cause them to be targeted by Chinese nuclear attacks, Yamashita suggested.

(By Sean Lin)


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