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On treaty anniversary, what became of Japan-China friendship?
Publication Date : 14-08-2013
The 35th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty was observed Monday.
Although the day was supposed to be a milestone in the development of peaceful relations between the two countries, neither government held any commemorative events.
Even a meeting of private-sector experts, which would have been the ninth if held this year, was postponed at China’s request. Beijing probably intends to exert psychological pressure on Japan.
According to a public opinion survey conducted jointly by Japan and China, more than 90 per cent of pollees in each country said they had a “bad” impression of the other. The findings symbolise the abnormal relationship between the two countries, which is at its worst level since diplomatic relations were normalised in 1972.
The biggest reason for deteriorating relations lies in the confrontation over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
The Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has continued to take provocative actions. Chinese government vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japanese waters, and a naval vessel locked fire-control radar onto a Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer near the islands.
Beijing recently established the China Coast Guard to conduct maritime surveillance under the State Oceanic Administration. Vessels belonging to the coast guard intruded in Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands for a record 28 hours early this month.
With the Senkakus and other islands in the East China and South China seas in mind, Xi recently said his country “cannot sacrifice its core interests.” He is apparently planning to accelerate China’s development as a maritime power and reinforce its high-handed posture.
Japan mustn’t lower guard
Japan must not let its guard down. The government must continue to show it will strongly defend the Senkaku Islands with everything in its power.
The bilateral treaty says that in the event of a conflict, the two countries would try to “settle it by peaceful means” while “refraining from the use or threat of force”.
Any attempt to change the present status unilaterally and with the use of force will run counter to the spirit of the treaty. Does China have no intention of respecting the treaty?
As a prerequisite for holding Japan-China summit talks, which have not been held for some time, the Xi administration has called on Japan to first acknowledge the existence of a territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands and that both would shelve the issue for the time being.
But the Senkaku Islands are an integral part of Japan’s territory, so a territorial dispute does not exist. It is reasonable for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to comply with China’s demand. The government probably will have to continue to present Japan’s position and persistently seek the understanding of the international community on the issue.
Abe has told China, “The window for dialogue is always open”. Will the Xi administration continue to refuse to hold summit talks unless Japan bows to its wishes?
Both countries have strong economic links with each other. While both countries need to deal jointly with North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs, there is also plenty of room for them to cooperate on environmental issues.
Bilateral relations between the two countries are supposed to be of “mutual benefit”. Should the conflict continue, however, “mutual losses” will become widespread.