The outgoing 2006 has been a year to retrieve the situation in Sino-Japanese relations. New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent trip to China has broken a layer of floe in bilateral ties, which had been frozen by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's mulish, repeated visits to Yusukuni Shrine. So his handshake with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing has been the most significant and joyous event in Sino-Japanese relations in the year.
The incoming 2007 will possibly be a year of opportunity for the continuous improvement of Sino-Japanese ties, in which the people of both nations are looking forward to for the further development of bilateral relations with the arrival of the 35th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two neighboring nations.
First of all, leaders of both China and Japan will enhance their contacts. Shortly after Abe's China trip in October, President Hu Jintao met him again in Hanoi during the 14th Economic Leaders' Informal Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in November. At the start of the incoming year, Premier Wan Jiabao will also possibly meet and confer with him during the imminent meeting of the ASEAN member nations plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Moreover, Japan has so far invited Chinese leaders and minister of defense to visit Japan. And an upsurge will likely emerge in an exchange of visits and contracts between the two nations, including an exchange of high-level visits between their leaders.
Secondly, China and Japan are seeking to build up and increase their strategic mutual trust. China's road for peaceful development and ideas for "a harmonious society" and "a harmonious world" will win the understanding and recognition of all strata in Japan, whose aspiration to take the road for a peaceful nation in the post-World War II era and to continue taking such as a road in the years ahead has also received the positive appraisal from the Chinese side.
China and Japan will deepen their mutual trust in the security area through security dialogue and exchanges in defense affairs; nurture the people-to-people friendly sentiments via bilateral cultural exchanges, and goodwill contacts between youngsters and children in particular; and launch joint history researches in the academic circles of both nations, so as to pay way for the correct awareness and treatment toward history; and work harder for the joint development via dialogues and consultations, so as to turn the East China Sea into a sea of peace and cooperation.
Thirdly, China and Japan will seek to forge the ties of mutual benefit to both sides with an objective of realizing peaceful co-existence, friendship from generation to generation, mutual benefit and cooperation, as well as joint development. Both sides will open up a new situation of mutual benefit and multi-layer cooperation in all directions and with wider spheres, and carry out in-depth cooperation with focuses to be placed in such fields as energy, environmental protection, banking, information and telecommunication technology, and intellectual property right protection. In the economic sphere, dialogues at the ministerial level, consultations between the relevant government departments and dialogue between officials and ordinary people of the two nations will be inspired and advanced, so as to "uplift the Sino-Japanese ties up to a still higher level with the intensified turning of the twin wheels, politics and economics."
Meanwhile, various contractions accumulated in Sino-Japanese relations over recent years are expected to resolved gradually, and some sensitive problems existing between the two nations, including the issue relating to history, the Taiwan issue, and the dispute on the sovereignty of Tiaoyu Islands are still around, and the bilateral ties still face new challenges, and all these problems have to be settle properly by both sides.
In the wake of the election of the House of Councillors or the national diet of Japan, acknowledge some Japanese media reports, the right-wing forces would incline to pressurize Abe and compel him to take the Koizumi's beaten track on the issues relating to Yusukuni Shrine pilgrimage and Japanese textbooks.
There is absolutely no way out for retrogression, nevertheless. Moreover, the incoming 2007 is a memorable year, with the 70th anniversary for the July 7 Incident of 1937 launched by Japanese intruders, which marked the start of an all-out war of their aggression against China, and the infamous Nanjing Massacre, or atrocities committed by Japanese intruders against the civilians in Nanjing in Dec. 1937 with a death toll of more than 300,000. So it is very crucial for leaders and people of both nations to take history as a mirror and look ahead to the future.
Furthermore, the Japanese Defense Agency is to be upgraded to the status of the Ministry of Defense as of the beginning of 2007 and Japan will beef up its strategic ties with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) while going on reinforcing its alliance with the United States. From a long-term point of view, Japan is apt to deviate from the road of peaceful development with still an undecided factor provided it amends its post-war constitution.
At this season to greet the new year, people here can perhaps quote the verse of noted poet Liu Yuxi from the ancient Tang Dynasty (618-907): "A thousand sails pass by the shipwreck, ten thousand saplings shoot up beyond the withered tree," which simply means that "new, thriving things come to the fore, while old things wither away." The two Asian nations will certainly have a bright future with their bilateral ties as along as both embark on the road of peaceful development and jointly abide by the three political documents governing the bilateral relationships and various principles reached between them.
By the People's Daily Online, and the author Liu Jiangyong, a noted professor from the Institute of International Studies of prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing