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2008年5月 9日 (金)



EDITORIAL: Japan-China summit


Having read the joint statement signed Wednesday by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, we think there are several points worthy of note. First, on the history issue that has been a thorn in the Japan-China relationship, the joint statement simply noted that history must be "faced squarely." There is also a passage in which China lauds the direction Japan took after World War II to become a pacifist nation.



In past Japan-China summits and other meetings, the wording of Japan's apology and remorse for its war of aggression was always a major issue of contention. Not this time. This was quite a difference from the past.


We also note that both countries acknowledged their "huge responsibility to contribute to global peace and development" and vowed to "reinforce cooperation on international issues of importance." This means the days of struggling to maintain friendship and coordinate bilateral relations are over, and the partners have now set their sights on working more closely together on issues of international concern.


China's emergence as an economic and political power forms the backdrop of these changes. For Japan, the need for a stable relationship with China is all too obvious. China also understands that it cannot carry on as a responsible major power if it remains at odds with Japan.


The joint statement asserted unequivocally that peace and amity are "the only choice" and that the partners "will not be a threat to each other." We believe this reflects their objective assessment of the reality that faces them.


The greatest significance of this latest summit is that both Fukuda and Hu have made it clear that they stand by this sort of realism.


For all these pleasant, positive statements, however, the real test is whether the partners are able to reflect this new-found political reality in their actual policies. When we consider the problems that lie between the two countries, we realize it will not be easy.


The joint statement avoided direct reference to the Tibet issue which the entire world is watching closely, and Fukuda refrained from criticizing Beijing during his meeting with Hu. So long as neither party is willing to broach any controversial issue, we must say their stated commitment to their "huge responsibility" lacks persuasiveness.


Three years ago, the possibility of Japan becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council aroused intense anti-Japan sentiment in China. On this matter, the joint statement mentioned "the importance of Japan's position and role in the United Nations," but went no further. We believe China has yet to completely get over this issue.


On the tainted frozen gyoza dumpling scare, Fukuda told Hu firmly that this issue must not be allowed to remain unresolved. However, Japanese consumers are not going to be satisfied until they see tangible progress.


The Japan-China relationship has stumbled into a new stage, so to speak, and the awareness of the people on both sides counts a great deal. Should Japan choose to make light of the history controversy, the relationship could be shaken again. And unless China behaves in internationally acceptable ways with regard to the Tibet issue and the safety of Chinese exports, it will only become more out of place in the international community.


The joint statement was nothing more than a starting point. The test begins now on how the new Japan-China relationship will really hold up.


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 8(IHT/Asahi: May 9,2008)

朝日新聞 5月8日号 (英語版 2008年5月9日発行)


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