Japan's tough posture masks its weakness

Source:Global Times Published: 2012-5-16 0:30:00

China's patrol ship "Haijian 50" patrols in waters near the Diaoyu Islands, March 16, 2012. The patrol by China Marine Surveillance, the country's maritime law enforcement authorities, was carried out by two patrol ships "Haijian 50" and "Haijian 66", which arrived in waters near the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated isles in the early morning of Friday. Authorized by the Chinese State Council, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), the country's maritime authority, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs released standard names of the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated isles recently. Photo: Xinhua


Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's visit to China appears to have been unsuccessful. Japanese media commented that he had harsh exchanges with Chinese leaders over the Diaoyu Islands and human rights. Tokyo's decision to allow the World Uyghur Congress to be held in Japan constituted another provocation to China. Against this backdrop, the prospects for the first China-Japan high-level talks on maritime affairs are not promising.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. But the DPJ government has taken many frustrating actions that go against the objective of improving Sino-Japanese ties.

Japan's current policies are teeming with short-term schemes without a coherent strategic direction. Under the shadow of the US, and facing a rising China, Japanese society is dominated by apprehension and pessimism, giving rise to far-right nationalism. The country is seemingly led by misleading impulses and pride.

There is no shortage of disputes between Japan and China. Compared with the US and Russia, China is a more suitable target for Tokyo to vent its dissatisfaction.

But China represents Japan's hope of economic recovery, where Japan has a geo-economic advantage over other developed countries. Japan is intentionally showing a tough posture toward China even though its economic reliance on China is increasing. Tokyo's diplomacy is swaying between these two ends.

Japan's toughness against China actually reflects its weakness. The hardline approach is not driven by real national interests, nor is it supported by international acknowledgement. The posture cannot even match its national power.

China has seen through Japan's trick. To us, Noda's talk of human rights with Chinese leaders was nothing but a show, a clumsy mimic of Western leaders. It puzzles us why Japanese society is not embarrassed by its prime minister. Japan has few political feats to flaunt to other Asian emerging countries. A country that frequently changes government is unattractive to them.

Nor does it hold any moral advantage over territorial disputes with China. Without invasion, it would not even own Okinawa, let alone the Diaoyu Islands. It is a country composed mainly of islands, but it is arguing with China over a continental shelf. The Okinotori Reef is roguishly exaggerated into an island by Japan.

Tokyo's China policy is increasingly dominated by an irrational mood, and its government is giving up the role of leading public opinion. A hawkish stance has become the mainstream of Japan's China policy, the only way politicians can gain popularity.

Antagonism benefits neither China nor Japan, but Japan will suffer more damage. Japanese politicians need to make this clear to its people.

Related report


China, Japan start sea talks 
China and Japan will hold a high-level consultation on maritime affairs later today with the Diaoyu Islands expected to take center stage, but analysts warned of a rocky road ahead in terms of making progress.

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