Abe’s friendly overtures to Beijing a ruse

By Li Chen Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/30 19:13:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Japan sent its delegation to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and expressed its willingness to become a member of the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) earlier in May. The motive of these overtures does not appear to be aimed at mending diplomatic ties with China. Tokyo's wish to join AIIB appears to be an attempt to influence the program from within. Therefore, under the guise of Japan developing good neighborliness with China, improvement in the Sino-Japanese relationship is not likely to occur.

Japan takes a vague attitude toward the recognition of its history, which has become a long-standing problem. The bourgeoning economic growth and remarkable rise in its national strength since the 1980s has prompted Japan's demand to raise its global status. As a result, right-wing extremists attempt to deny Japanese military invasions during WWII (1939-45) and avoid shouldering their responsibility for the war.

Former Japanese minister of education Masayuki Fujio claimed in 1986 that the US' atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 brought tremendous losses to Japan and invasion was not committed only by the Japanese. The "persecutor to victim" position is a clear evasion of Japan's historical responsibility and a stinging insult to nations plagued by Japanese invasions before and during WWII.

The Abe administration in particular has never made deep introspection over Japan's responsibility for WWII, but rather voiced complaints and grievances for the country's war criminals. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on August 14, 2015 released a statement marking 70 years since the end of WWII that reinterpreted the Japan-Russia War (1904-05) as an encouragement to many people then under colonial rule from Asia to Africa while obscured the historical fact that Japan officially annexed Korea as a colony in 1910. The Japanese government's failure to bear responsibility for the war and hold the right attitude toward its recognition of history is jeopardizing the development of and posing enormous obstacles for the amelioration of China-Japan bilateral relations.

Sino-Japanese territorial issues and Japan and Taiwan's relationship also merit close attention. The territorial disputes between Beijing and Tokyo are centered on the sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. The islands have been part of China's territory since ancient times and China's claim of sovereignty has been legitimated by international law. However, the Japanese authority is adept at fabricating news to ignite hostility in the civil communities of both countries. Meanwhile, it often makes a big fuss about the Diaoyu Islands dispute in the global arena and ramps up efforts to spread the "China threat" theory.

On May 18, the Japanese government hyped up news that it spotted a Chinese drone flying over the Diaoyu Islands, in a bid to facilitate Abe's intention to revise the Constitution and revive militarism.

Apart from that, the Taiwan issue is unavoidable in China-Japan relations. A growing rapport between Japan and Taiwan has been witnessed since Tsai Ing-wen took office. Abe's administration is also attempting to use the Taiwan issue as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Beijing. Abe alleged that Taiwan is an important partner that shares Japan's values and interests. This is undoubtedly challenging the bottom line of the Chinese people.

On March 25, Jiro Akama, Japanese vice minister for internal affairs attended a Japanese culture promotion event in Taiwan. The visit went against the principles of the four political documents reached between China and Japan. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested Akama's trip to Taiwan.

Finally, there is the US-Japan alliance and Japan's re-positioning. The fact is that Trump's diplomatic policies of strategic contraction have done little to affect the alliance.

Although Trump said that the Japan-US alliance that obligates the US to protect Japan is unfair, bilateral ties between Tokyo and Washington remain unchanged and Trump himself declared clearly that the US is committed to the security of Japan.

In addition, the Abe administration has beefed up efforts to strengthen dialogues with the US since Trump was sworn in and underscored the significance of their bilateral relationship.

The above mentioned not only indicates that there is currently little opportunity to alleviate tensions in Sino-Japanese relations, but also shows Japan's irresponsible practices as it fails to reflect on its responsibility for the war and reconsider its ties with China. Japan's long-term endeavor to confront China through a US-Japan alliance, interventions in cross-Straits relations and the East and South China Sea issues hurts Chinese people and dampens its own development path.

The author is a PhD candidate of the Department of History at Fudan University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion


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