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2012年9月29日 (土)

日中国交40年 「互恵」再構築へ長期戦略を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 29, 2012)
Long-range strategy a must for Japan-China reciprocity
日中国交40年 「互恵」再構築へ長期戦略を(9月28日付・読売社説)


When diplomatic relations were established between Japan and China in 1972, who could have imagined the relationship would become as strained as it is now?

Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of a joint declaration by then Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing. Despite the importance of the milestone, events celebrating Japan-China ties have been canceled or suspended one after another.

Boycotts of Japanese goods have spread in China, and the bilateral relationship is in an unprecedentedly grave situation. There are no signs that Chinese protests against Japan's decision to nationalize the Senkaku Islands will subside anytime soon.

Rocky relations between the world's No. 2 and No. 3 economies are bound to have an adverse effect on the region as well as the global economy.

How should Japan deal with China? First, it must map out and execute a long-range strategy for normalizing relations.


A political, economic chill

Among the anti-Japan demonstrations that have occurred recently in China, the event that best symbolizes the bleak state of bilateral ties was the attack on a Panasonic Corp. factory by a violent mob.

Panasonic has played a pioneering role among Japanese firms in expanding its operations in China.

A meeting in 1978 between Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of the current Panasonic, and visiting Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping served as a catalyst for expansion by Japanese companies in China. In the meeting, Deng asked Matsushita to support China's development with both technology and business management.

In the wake of the meeting, Japanese firms rushed to establish offices in China, which created many jobs. In addition, the Japanese government continued to loan China yen until fiscal 2007.

There is no doubt the assistance of the Japanese government and companies strengthened China's economic fundamentals and helped China's economy surpass even that of Japan's in terms of gross domestic product.

Japan's cooperation with China, however, is largely unknown to the ordinary people of China.

On the contrary, China in the 1990s strengthened patriotic education in its schools, inculcating anti-Japan sentiment and spreading attitudes downplaying Japan's role among the Chinese public even as the economy developed.

This state of mind appears to be intensifying in China, allowing the current political and economic chill in the bilateral relationship.

Nevertheless, it should never be forgotten that the economies of Japan and China have grown deeply intertwined.

The two countries have established a system of international division of labor in which China imports industrial parts from Japan to assemble into finished products. These are then marketed domestically in China or exported to the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Both sides must not forget this fact.


Strengthen coast guard

The root cause of problems surrounding the Senkaku Islands lies in China's unilateral assertion of a groundless claim to the islets in the 1970s, but only after learning that the area of the East China Sea around the islands might contain rich oil resources.

At a press conference when the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China came into effect in 1978, Deng said, "It does not matter if this question [the dispute over the Senkaku Islands] is shelved for some time," thus proposing leaving the issue to future generations to solve.

However, China in 1992 enacted its Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, which specifies that the islands belong to China. More recently, China has caused friction to flare by repeatedly sending surveillance ships to the waters around the islands.

The recent nationalization of some of the Senkaku Islands is merely a transfer of ownership from a private citizen to the central government. China may have been angered because the purchase took place shortly after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Vladivostok, Russia, but China's ire has been greater than Japan expected.

At a recent meeting between Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in New York, Yang called Japan's nationalization of the islands a "denial" of the outcome of "the anti-fascist war," by which he meant China's victory over Japan in World War II.

We see Yang's attempt to associate the islands with unrelated historical events as extremely far-fetched.

Japan should not stand idly by while China battles for world opinion by vehemently criticizing Japan over nonexistent "faults."

Noda, speaking before the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, said, "Any attempt by a nation to achieve its ideology or claims through the unilateral threat or use of force is absolutely unacceptable." We see this view as eminently reasonable.

China recently launched its first aircraft carrier. The country's policy of expanding its military is sure to continue under its new leadership and will likely be promoted more strongly than ever.

If effective control over the Senkaku Islands were lost, it would be extremely difficult to regain. Therefore, the government must set as its highest priority the strengthening of the Japan Coast Guard's capabilities to counter any infringement on the nation's sovereignty.

Needless to say, a military confrontation must be avoided at all costs. The deployment of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture is an important part of boosting deterrence toward China.


Achieve prosperity together

Since several years ago, beginning with the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan had held talks with China over the joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea from the standpoint of fostering a "strategically reciprocal relationship" so both nations could live in harmony and prosperity.

However, "reciprocal" ties have been stalled since a Chinese fishing vessel rammed JCG patrol vessels off the Senkaku Islands in 2010.

Thorough preparations are essential to rebuilding the reciprocal relationship. The government must inform China through various channels that it is willing to cooperate, not only in the industrial and tourism sectors and in enhancing agricultural productivity, but also in areas such as energy efficiency and environmental protection.

Close cooperation with the United States is also vital in improving the Japan-China relationship, as is strategic diplomacy by reinforcing ties with neighbors, including India, Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 28, 2012)
(2012年9月28日01時12分  読売新聞)


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