Abe's China trip to retrieve Sino-Japanese ties

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) right after he took office shows the urgent desire of his cabinet to resume Japan's ties with both China and ROK. And the Chinese government, whose principled policy to develop the long-term friendship and cooperation with Japan has been consistent, naturally responds to the Abe cabinet's positive posture to improve Japan-China ties and gives expressions to its sincerity to retrieve Sino-Japanese relations together with the Japanese side.

Prime Minister Abe's China trip has its special significances. First of all, it constitutes a major hall mark of seeking better Sino-Japanese ties at the beginning of the 21st century. Due to former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where the Japanese War dead, including 14 convicted Class A war criminals in World War II, are honored, there have been no official visits of Japanese leaders to China so far in recent years. Chilly, strained bilateral political relations have negatively affected the friendly feelings of the people of both nations and bilateral economic and trade ties to varying extent. So removal of the political barriers to Sino-Japanese political relations and resumption of the high-level contact at an earlier date conform to the fundamental interests of the two nations and the aspiration of their people.

Secondly, Abe's visit represents an important turning point for improving Sino-Japanese ties, as the year 2007 will be the 35th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese good-neighborly relations, and 2008 will be the 30th anniversary of the signing of China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty, and the 10th anniversary of the issue of China-Japan Joint Declaration on Building a Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development (November 26, 1998). If both Chinese and Japanese sides can take Abe's visit as a new start to restore the exchange of high-level visits, the sliding tendency in Sino-Japanese ties can be reversed and the growth of bilateral relations will possibly be pushed forward in the years ahead.

Thirdly, the visit is essential for advancing peace, development and cooperation in the East Asia region. As close neighbors and major Asia nations, China and Japan are influential in the region both politically and economically, and the forging of good Sino-Japanese ties is a must for the establishment of a harmonious Asia. Overall, the present situation in East Asia is stable at present, but the Six-Party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue has come to a deadlock, with some unstable and undefined factors still around in the region. So many countries, including the Asian nations and the United States, look forward to Japan's restoration of ties with China after the new Japanese prime minister assumes premiership.

The new Japanese leader's eager and prompt trip to China and ROK derives from his overall consideration of Japan's domestic and external policies. Shinzo Abe has been elected the new president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). And his main political objective is to formulate a new Japanese constitution that fits the 21st century and, this requires the support of more than two thirds of the Japanese House of Councilors (or the National Diet of Japan) and the House of Representatives to amend the constitution. Abe's chief diplomatic goal is to enable Japan to "become a permanent member of the UN Security Council" but he can hardly "realize this dream" without the unanimous support of China, ROK and other Asian neighbors. In such circumstance, his resumption of contacts with leaders of China and ROK can not only show accredits or successes in his political career and but also ease pressure from the opposition parties. Hence, Abe has to reaffirm the guidelines of Former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's speech on improved Japan-China ties instead of repeating Koizumi's "same old disastrous course" in paying homage to the Yasukuni Shrine time and again.

Before he was elected president of the LDP, Abe, too, made a lot of remarks detrimental to Japan-China friendship and visited the Yasukuni Shrine personally, so the Chinese side has reasons to continue upholding its principled position on the relevant issues in its candid and in-depth contacts and communication with him and go on paying attention to his concrete deeds in his post-China visit days. The move of Abe, the grandson of Former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, will surely follow with keen interest both in Japan and worldwide, Meanwhile, his father, Former Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, had contributed positively to the growth of Sino-Japanese relations during his tenure of office.

As the first prime minister born in Yamaguchi after the normalization of Sino-Japanese good neighborly ties in 1972, Shinzo Abe is possibly able to make a pioneering historic contribution to the improvement and enhancement of Sino-Japanese relations, as long as he can put himself in a proper position and strictly observe the guidelines and principles enshrined in the three political documents signed between China and Japan.

By People's Daily Online

People's Daily Online --- http://english.people.com.cn/