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2014年5月10日 (土)

高村副総裁訪中 互損から互恵へ転換する時だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:26 pm, May 08, 2014
Komura’s China visit should set stage for renewal of mutually beneficial ties
高村副総裁訪中 互損から互恵へ転換する時だ

It remains to be seen whether this could be the opening needed to overcome the current antagonism between Japan and China, and return to the starting point of “mutually beneficial, strategic relations.”

Members of the Japan-China Parliamentarians’ Friendship Union, a suprapartisan group of Japanese lawmakers including Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Masahiko Komura, visited China and met with Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

The fact that Japanese lawmakers were able to hold talks with the third-ranking official of the Communist Party of China illustrates that both sides believe the current strained relations must not be allowed to fester any longer.

Komura told Zhang, “While the relationship between the countries should be a ‘mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests,’ the current relationship is mutually detrimental and tactical in nature.” He made a forward-looking proposal to build ties through which the two countries could share benefits from a broad perspective, even if both sides disagreed over political issues and perceptions of history.

It is unfortunate that the Chinese side remained obstinate toward the offer.

“The causes of the current deterioration in Japan-China relations lie with the Japanese side,” Zhang said. “I want Japan to address these problems.” He also criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine last December, and insisted that the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture were Chinese territory.

However, we believe most of the causes of the current stalemate in bilateral ties stem from the Chinese side.

China at fault

China has regularly been sending government ships into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, and in November last year it unilaterally declared an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea, including the Senkakus.

Furthermore, at the request of South Korea, China opened a memorial hall at Harbin Station in Heilongjiang Province dedicated to Ahn Jung Geun, the Korean who in 1909 assassinated Hirobumi Ito, a former Japanese prime minister and the first governor general of Korea. In a recent speech in Germany, Chinese President Xi Jinping took a swipe at Japan by saying “at least 300,000 people were killed” in the Nanjing Incident. This figure is completely baseless.

Although China is trying to isolate Japan, visible cracks are appearing in its diplomatic strategy of trying to build a “new type” of great power relationship with the United States.

During their recent summit meeting in Tokyo, U.S. President Barack Obama said explicitly to Abe that the Senkaku Islands fall under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Reconfirming that the bilateral alliance remains rock-solid is significant because it shows Beijing’s attempts to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Washington are not proceeding as planned.

Zhang told Komura that the current shrinking volume of trade between Japan and China was “something I don’t want to see.” Japanese investment in China also has plunged.

It appears the Xi administration has started to feel uncomfortable about the negative impact that the deterioration of ties with Japan has been having on the Chinese economy.

Komura sounded out the Chinese side about a meeting between Abe and Xi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit meeting due to be held in November. Dialogue between the two top leaders is vital for resolving problematic bilateral issues.

Abe also has said both leaders “should have frank talks, without preconditions.”

It is time China thought seriously about how to bring an end to “mutually detrimental” relations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 8, 2014)


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