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2014年9月 6日 (土)

抗日戦勝記念日 習氏は「関係発展」を望むのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China’s newly founded ‘Victory Day’ casts doubt on signs of Xi’s thawing
抗日戦勝記念日 習氏は「関係発展」を望むのか

We are concerned that China’s newly formalized “anti-Japan victory day” may be a source of future trouble in the relationship between Japan and China.

The Chinese administration of President Xi Jinping observed a ceremony on Wednesday to mark the 69th anniversary of China’s victory in the war of resistance against Japanese aggression near Marco Polo Bridge (Lugouqiao) on the outskirts of Beijing. The administration placed great importance on the observance of the anniversary, with all seven members, including Xi, of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party — the country’s highest leadership body — attending in extraordinarily high pomp.

At the close of the war in 1945, a celebration was held on Sept. 3, the day after Japan signed the official document of surrender. The Xi administration has chosen Sept. 3 as the date for a national holiday known as “Victory Day” starting this year.

To be marked annually from now on, the Sept. 3 event will feature a string of anti-Japan campaigns accompanied by official commemorative events. There are fears that the newly formalized Victory Day may cause the currently frayed relations between China and Japan to remain that way for a long time to come.

Delivering a speech at Wednesday’s commemorative ceremony, Xi criticized Japan, saying, “China will never allow any denial and distortion of this history of aggression or any return to militarism.” He also emphasized that China, as a victorious country in World War II, is “determined to abide by the postwar international order.”

Xi’s remarks disregard Japan’s postwar development as a pacifist nation that has been strongly praised by the international community, and we cannot accept them. It is China that has posed a threat to the “postwar international order” in recent years by mounting “attempts to change forcibly the status quo” in the East and South China seas and elsewhere.

Condition-free summit

It is worthy of attention that Xi did say, in the same speech, “China is ready to promote the long-term, steady and healthy development of Sino-Japanese relations.” This is the first time the Chinese president has referred to improvement in Japan-China relations since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Yasukuni Shrine to honor the war dead last December.

In fact, Xi has given signs that he is in favor of mending the strained bilateral ties, including his talks in Beijing with former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in July.

One factor behind this may be that Xi is to chair the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit scheduled for November in Beijing.

If China is unable to gain Japan’s cooperation at the APEC summit and international attention focuses on the friction between Tokyo and Beijing, China could be seen as unsuccessful in chairing the summit. China places high value on saving face, and it likely hopes to avoid such a failure.

The stagnation of bilateral relations has caused Japan’s direct investment in China to fall drastically, which has begun to adversely impact the Chinese economy.

As the Abe administration will likely continue for a long time, many analysts say that China will likely find it inevitable, at some point in the future, to amend its completely anti-Japan, hard-line diplomatic stance.

The APEC summit will certainly be a favorable opportunity for both countries to hold summit talks with no conditions attached. Both the Japanese and Chinese governments should come to a mutual compromise to realize a Japan-China summit meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit. Even if strained bilateral relations may not be radically improved by a single summit meeting, it is quite possible to make the meeting the starting point toward a broader rapprochement between the two nations.

Next year will mark the 70th year of the war’s end, and there are strong indications that history issues will become a focus of Japan-China relations in 2015. Despite the disparities in their views, the two sides should be well aware of the need to reaffirm the great importance of continuing dialogue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 5, 2014)Speech


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