Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso made another stunning remark Thursday that China is "beginning to pose a considerable threat". This was the first time that a member of Prime Minister Koizumi's cabinet makes a public fanfare on "China threat". Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang rebutted it by saying it is "highly irresponsible" for the Japanese foreign minister to make such comments."
Public fanfare of threat
Taro Aso said at a press conference held after the conclusion of a cabinet meeting Thursday morning "A neighboring country has an atomic bomb and its military spending has been rising at a double-digit rate for 17 consecutive years. There is little transparency and I view that as a concern, a threat."
Taro Aso also backed the "China threat" theory promoted in the United States by the leader of Japan's largest opposition Democratic Party, Seiji Maehara, saying to have misgiving over the transparency of (the Chinese military) and Seiji Maehara was correct.
Seiji Maehara said in a speech at the Washington-based US Center for Strategic and International Studies that China, relying on economic growth, pushed ahead military buildup and modernization, these had constituted a practical threat."
Previously, Japanese cabinet members had never aired in the public the "China threat" theory. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said on several occasions that although China has nuclear weapons, it should not be viewed as a threat therefore.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang rebutted by saying that it is extremely irresponsible for the Japanese Foreign Minister to fan such groundless "China threat" theory. He also questioned the intention.
Who threatens whom?
In the Japanese political circles, Taro Aso is known for his hawkish attitude toward China. When forming the third cabinet at the end of October, Koizumi placed him in the position of foreign minister. Since assuming his post Taro Aso has now and then dropped remarks on the China-Japan relations. The above-mentioned comments were nothing but a transformation of the thoughts in his mind into an official gesture.
What is alarming, however, is that a review of the complications in the China-Japan relations in recent years shows that Japan has never stopped fanning "China threat" theory, overtly or covertly.
In December last year, the Japanese government released the new Defense Guidelines that for the first time incorporates words like "China threat" into official documents. Western media, when commenting on it, believed the new guidelines actually revealed Japan's own military ambition.
Before this, the Defense White Paper 2005 made public by Japanese Defense Agency gave much space to exaggerating the so-called "strategic space expansion" by Chinese naval force and "offense-defense integration". Meanwhile it spared no effort in hinting at "China threat".
At the beginning of this year, an internal document of Japanese Defense Agency was exposed, which assumed the blocking of a third country's invasion of the "southwest islands" and included Chinese territory the "Diaoyu Islands" into its defense plan.
At the Japan-US Defense Minister and Foreign Minister "2+2" meeting in February, the two sides even included the Taiwan Straits question into the Japan-US Common Strategic Objectives. Japan played a disreputable role in promoting this. According to the latest exposure, Japan will hold an unprecedented exercise with the United States next January to "recapture islands". Mainstream newspapers of both countries pointed that the move was obviously aimed at so-called "Chinese military buildup", "threat faced by Japanese southwest islands".
The Japanese comments about China's military threat, both official and unofficial, have been severely rebuked by China.
Regarding the remarks made by Seiji Maehara, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said at a press conference that China's military spending in 2004 was US$25.6 billion while Japan's military expenditure was 1.62 times that of China. Therefore China's per capita military spending was US$23 while that of Japan was US$1,300. Military expenditure per serviceman was US$13,000 in China and US$200,000 in Japan, 15 times that of China.
Qin Gang asked: "Japanese territory is only 1/25 of China's. It has a population of China's 1/10. What is the purpose of maintaining such a large military spending? Now it says China constitutes a practical threat. Would you please tell me where this threat comes from?"
Some Japanese politicians add fuel to poisoning the China-Japan relations and estranging feelings between the two peoples with such words and deeds.
A poll conducted by the Japanese conservative newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun and US Gallup last November showed that 73 percent of Japanese people believe the China-Japan relations are "bad" and 72 percent of interviewed "distrust" China.
The Yomiuri Shimbun put up an analysis saying that 76 percent Japanese felt "threatened" by China's military buildup, "this is perhaps the chief reason for the deterioration of Japanese people's feelings toward China."
The article on the fifth page of People's Daily Overseas Edition, Dec. 23, is translated by People's Daily Online