Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan won a landslide victory in the Upper House elections, securing a majority in the chamber with its junior coalition partner New Komeito. But the LDP itself failed to gain over half of the seats up for grabs.
This presents the constitutional revision that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long coveted with some uncertainties while creating conditions for a long tenure in office for the prime minister.
Abe's toughness against China will be further fuelled, and there will be more possibilities that he will visit the Yasukuni Shrine on August 15. It's hard to ease the Sino-Japan relationship at large. However, Abe also has no reason to embark on an extreme adventure.
Abe said Monday that the China-Japan relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships to both sides, and the difficult problems facing the two shouldn't affect the overall relations. This sounds like nothing but cliché. We shouldn't expect any détente in the bilateral relationship during his term.
The prerequisite for an improvement in the Sino-Japanese relations is a major change in the way of thinking by the Abe administration in dealing with China. China's national strength has become great enough to suppress any Japanese impulse of war with China, which would be an unbearable catastrophe for Tokyo.
China should put more of its energy and attention on building its Asia-Pacific strategy and domestic issues. The Abe administration may seek more radical political provocations, including the prime minister visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. If this happens, we don't have to appease Tokyo in order to avoid intensified confrontation.
We have created a new term to describe the state of the current Sino-Japan relationship: "cold confrontation," as the bilateral relationship has steered away from normal state-to-state ties, but not entered into a new "cold war." Massive economic and trade exchanges prevent the two from slipping toward a "cold war" or a "hot war." But it's also impossible to return to a friendly neighborly relationship.
Psychological confrontation and even hostility have been aroused, and there is neither external environment nor internal motives for both to overcome those negative feelings. Therefore, it will be lucky if the Sino-Japanese relations could maintain a "cold confrontation." At present talking about Sino-Japanese friendship is completely false. We should lower our expectations and make "cold confrontation" acceptable.
We advise Chinese leaders not to meet Abe for a long time, and Chinese senior officials don't comment on Sino-Japanese relations save for remarks by the spokespersons of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These will be a response to the tough shows against China by high-ranking Japanese politicians like Abe. The Japanese public should understand that the more such shows, the more pressure there is on Japan.