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2014年8月13日 (水)

日中・日韓関係 対話重ねて現状を打開したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Strained ties with China, S. Korea should be mended through dialogue
日中・日韓関係 対話重ねて現状を打開したい

Japan should aim to improve its bilateral ties with China and South Korea, with dialogues built on various levels and mutual concessions made on both sides.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida held talks with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts separately in Myanmar.

It was the first foreign ministerial meet to be held between Japan and China in roughly two years. Upset with Japan’s nationalization of part of the Senkaku Islands and other factors, China had rejected Japan’s calls to hold bilateral talks. Although Japan must not be too optimistic, the latest development may be a positive sign for the currently strained ties.

Following the talks, Kishida told reporters, “I hope [Saturday’s talks] will be the first step in improving our bilateral relations.”

Regarding improvement in the China-Japan relationship, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said it would depend on Japan acting with sincerity and implementing actual steps to achieve that goal.

By saying this, China is probably hinting that it wants Japan to acknowledge the existence of a bilateral territorial dispute over the Senkakus. But if all China does is one-sidedly press Japan to show its “sincerity” over the issue, bilateral relations will not improve.

China will host an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Beijing in November. A focal point in the days ahead is whether China does in fact want to realize Japan-China summit talks on the occasion of the APEC forum meeting.

As a chair of the APEC meeting, China must not allow it to end up in failure. In this respect, China cannot afford to leave its bilateral ties with Japan “broken off” until then.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shown his eagerness to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the APEC meeting. Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visited China last month and held talks with Xi, apparently as part of government efforts to improve the environment for holding the summit talks.

Seek mutual benefits

Political confrontations between Japan and China have had markedly adverse impacts on their economic relations. There are also a number of areas in which the two countries need to cooperate, such as environmental issues and food safety.

Both leaders need to make mutual concessions with a broad perspective of pursuing “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.”

Meanwhile, during the Japan-South Korean foreign ministerial meeting held for the first time in 11 months, both sides agreed on the continuation of dialogue, but remained far apart in their assertions.

Kishida emphasized to South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se that “Amicable Japan-South Korean relations will provide mutual benefits.”

Yet Yun mentioned Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine late last year and a Japanese governmental panel’s recent report reexamining the process of drafting the Kono statement on so-called comfort women, criticizing these developments for damaging bilateral relations.

Yun also called on Japanese political leaders “to exhibit their wisdom and political clout” on pressing issues, including the one related to comfort women. Again this time, there was no change in South Korea’s hard-line stance of only demanding that Japan make concessions.

The deteriorated relations between Tokyo and Seoul are more attributable to South Korea than to Japan, with such factors as then South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s visit to the Takeshima islands in 2012 and an anti-Japan stance taken by current President Park Geun-hye. It is deemed unreasonable for Seoul to unilaterally expect Tokyo to make efforts to solve the bilateral issues.

To close the rift between Japan and South Korea, efforts should be made by both sides. With North Korea’s nuclear and missile development growing more serious, the United States has consistently demanded that both Japan and South Korea improve bilateral ties. Neither Japan nor South Korea must become a factor to cause regional instability.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 12, 2014)


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