Bandung spirit sets Japan on right track

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-4-27 20:58:02

If the handshake between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year in Beijing during the APEC summit could be considered an icebreaking move, which ended the long frosty period in the Sino-Japanese relationship since Japan's "nationalization" of the Diaoyu Islands, the encounter of the two leaders in Jakarta on April 22 marks a true thaw.

The first Asian-African Summit in Bandung marked the first official contact between China and Japan after WWII. At that time, then Japanese prime minister Ichiro Hatoyama sent Takasaki Tatsunosuke as head of the Japanese delegation to the conference. Tatsunosuke, who had broken through all kinds of resistance from conservatives both at home and from the US, met with then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai.

Although Abe's recent performance has unnerved us from time to time, we can remind him that both the countries should bear in mind the Bandung spirit 60 years ago. Even in the hardest time, we were able to overcome obstructions and tried to get closer. There is no reason for us not to learn from the farsightedness of the former generation of politicians. And there is no reason for Japan not to return to that right path, instead of being a troublemaker in the region.

Meanwhile, holding a talk before the forthcoming Abe's statement in August marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, with China outlining its stance over historic issues and future development, is profoundly constructive for the future course of bilateral ties.

Notably, although this year marks the 70th anniversary of China's victory over Japanese aggression, the wartime commemorations are not a key area of China's diplomacy this year. Instead, the Beijing-initiated "One Belt and One Road" project, with its guiding principle of peaceful development, has been upheld by a vast majority of nations, including a considerable number of developed countries.

Not only that, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which aims at providing support for the infrastructure projects across Asia through offering finance and deepening economic collaboration in the region, has also provided us a new beginning to global cooperation. China has taken the lead in the global trend of peace, development, progress and cooperation.

Given this backdrop, the relationship between Beijing and Tokyo can no longer be deemed a political rivalry, but must be set against the historical background and the current trend, with more discussions over the future.

Therefore, the meeting between Xi and Abe at this point, which helps reorient the bilateral ties, is of great constructive significance.

It provides an opportunity for both countries to seek common ground and reserve differences, as well as to make concerted efforts to uphold peace and stability in the region.

Of course, it is too early to say the hostility is over, and it is hardly an auspicious time for warm ties just based on this meeting, since the challenges are still enormous. Historical issues, territorial disputes and Japan's intention to revise the constitution are three major barriers to the improvement of Sino-Japanese relations. In addition, rapprochement is not a problem simply between China and Japan, but a complicated situation involving the engagement of the US.

Nobody can reverse the inevitable trend of peaceful development, but certain twists and turns will appear down the road. The overall China-Japan bilateral ties will remain tense, but not destructive, because Japan does not dare to risk universal condemnation by breaking stability and prosperity, and making things ugly for China and the international community.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Li Aixin based on an interview with Geng Xin, a senior research fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, and chief researcher of the Japan-based China Studies Think Tank.

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