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2014年8月13日 (水)

(社説)日本と中韓 異常な外交に終止符を

August 12, 2014
EDITORIAL: Japan, China and South Korea must not let war anniversaries break diplomatic momentum
(社説)日本と中韓 異常な外交に終止符を

The recent meetings between the Japanese foreign minister and his Chinese and South Korean counterparts highlighted afresh the surprising and disturbing fact that the top diplomats had failed to hold talks for so long.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida recently met separately with Wang Yi of China and Yun Byung-se of South Korea in Myanmar on the sidelines of meetings involving top foreign policy officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members and its key partners.

It was the first meeting between the top diplomats of Japan and China in nearly two years, and also the first since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power for a second time in December 2012. It had been about 10 months since the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers last held talks.

Kishida’s discussions with Wang and Yun in Myanmar were principally attempts to lay the diplomatic groundwork for the first meetings between Abe and the leaders of Japan’s two neighbors.

It would be naïve to expect just one foreign ministerial meeting to pave the way for a summit between Japan and either China or South Korea. But Kishida’s meetings with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts nevertheless represent a step forward in efforts to improve these important bilateral ties.
Both sides should make further diplomatic efforts to realize meetings of their leaders.

The governments of Japan and China are exploring the possibility of talks between Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping during this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing in November.

Since China hosts the event, the APEC conference will offer a good opportunity for the Japanese and Chinese leaders to hold talks.

In July, former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visited China and met secretly with Xi. They agreed to improve Sino-Japanese relations, and Fukuda reportedly conveyed Abe’s message about his desire to meet with the Chinese leader.

China’s remarkable rise has triggered various moves toward creating new economic and security orders in the Asia-Pacific region.

Countries in the region are trying to figure out ways to conclude and expand economic deals like free trade agreements and the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact.

The main regional security challenges include not just how to respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs but also how to deal with China’s assertive, hard-line stance toward territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

While the United States and South Korea have been actively engaged with China through strategic dialogue and other channels of communication, Japan, a major regional power, has done nothing but repeat that its “door of dialogue is always open.” The situation is simply unacceptable.

Since the Japanese government bought the disputed Senkaku Islands from a private landowner in September 2012, tensions between Tokyo and Beijing have been running high, triggering a series of scary incidents. They even include cases of Chinese fighters flying dangerously close to Self-Defense Forces aircraft. The situation urgently demands serious talks between the two countries.

Many dates in the coming weeks will mark key events related to World War II. They include Aug. 15, the day of Japan’s surrender in 1945, and Sept. 18, the day when a staged bomb attack against Japan’s South Manchuria Railway took place in Liutiaohu in 1931, setting off the Manchurian Incident.
This is the season for reflecting on the devastation caused by the war and lessons from the history.

Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul should ensure that nothing will take place at these occasions that could dampen the budding diplomatic momentum for improving the bilateral ties.

Abe and other Japanese political leaders should refrain from visiting Yasukuni Shrine. China, for its part, should stop using Japan’s past acts as tools for its international propaganda campaign.

We strongly urge the three governments to exercise self-restraint and work together to put their relations on a better standing.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 12


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