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2009年3月 3日 (火)

社説:日中外相会談 「尖閣」で政治摩擦を高めるな

(Mainichi Japan) March 2, 2009

Progress made at Beijing FM conference, but still a long way to go

社説:日中外相会談 「尖閣」で政治摩擦を高めるな

At a foreign ministerial conference in Beijing on Saturday, Japan and China agreed to urge North Korea to practice restraint in light of what appears to be preparations for a missile launch. However, the two countries remained fundamentally at odds on the dispute over the Senkaku Islands, and no specific progress was seen on the issue of gas field development in the East China Sea. With U.S.-China relations showing signs of expansion under the Obama administration, we hope for the facilitation of "strategic, reciprocal relations" between Japan and China.


What sparked the recent Senkaku controversy was the trespassing of a Chinese ship into Japanese territorial waters off the islands last December. Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso expressed his regret at a Japan-China summit meeting immediately following the incident, but Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao retorted that the area "has long been Chinese territory."


A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson lodged a protest over remarks made by Aso and Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone's prior to the conference that the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security applies to the Senkaku Islands. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi brought up the Senkaku issue, after which both countries made their respective arguments. But they also agreed not to let the dispute affect the two nations' overall relations.


The two countries have handled the situation wisely. We are facing a time when Japanese-Chinese cooperation is imperative in dealing with the unsettling activity taking place in North Korea, the current financial and economic crisis, and global warming. Intensified political friction between the two countries would merely create innumerable negative effects and no benefits.


It is unfortunate that no headway was made on the issue of gas field development. In a June 2008 agreement, Japan and China agreed that two of the four gas fields in the East China Sea midway between the two countries would be jointly developed with Japanese funding, while arrangements for the remaining two were to undergo further discussion.


However, formal treaty deliberations on the joint development show no signs of starting. It has also been revealed that China has been engaging in independent development of one of the two gas fields whose development rights have yet to be resolved. In response to Nakasone's request for an early discussion on the matter, Yang only stated China's intention to continue working-level negotiations, as it was an issue that involved "sensitive, complex problems."


There is said to be an increasing number of Chinese voices on the Internet calling for a firm approach to Japan within the context of the economic slowdown. China appears to have its reasons for showing a constant level of consideration for such public opinion. However, the development of gas fields is a joint project that represents the "strategic, reciprocal relationship" between Japan and China. We urge Chinese officials to make efforts towards an agreement.


Still, the conference did bear some fruit. Among them was the decision to begin negotiations to make it possible for suspects who have fled to be extradited and to allow the transfer of convicts to their home country to serve their prison terms. The two countries also agreed to expand their teacher exchange program, and to resume bilateral security talks for the first time in two and a half years.


We value these low-key, painstaking efforts. We also hope that China soon offers an explanation for the poisoned dumpling incident, which came to light over a year ago.


毎日新聞 200932日 東京朝刊


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