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China-Japan ties mix cooperation, competition

By Lian Degui (Jiefang Daily)

17:07, September 02, 2011

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

Yoshihiko Noda, who was recently elected prime minister of Japan, is the first graduate of the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management to become the leader of the country. Neighboring countries are a little worried because many graduates of the institute are hardliners, but from an overall and long-term perspective, China-Japan relations will continue to feature a mixture of cooperation and competition.

First, Japan's China policy has been greatly influenced by two different diplomatic trends in Japan in modern times. Before the Second World War, there had been a wide-ranging discussion in Japan about whether it should expand its national interests to Asian neighbors or limit the interests to the country itself.

After the Second World War, members of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan were divided into hawks and doves. The Democratic Party of Japan, which later became the ruling party of the country, has also been made up of hawks and doves. The hawks are in favor of the United States, while the doves are in favor of China.

Japan has been developing its policy toward China under the influence of both hawks and doves, so the Chinese people should neither feel pessimistic simply because of a hardliner's rise to power nor become optimistic because of a moderate’s rise to power. Japan has been wavering between China and the United States for a long time, which is partly why there have been some ups and downs in China-Japan relations since normalization.

Second, Japan's policy on China is closely associated with the changes in general international relations. Japan was in the capitalist camp during the Cold War and adopted a policy on China that generally conformed to the U.S. policy of containment. After the reconciliation between China and United States, Japan adapted to the international pattern of the triangle comprising of China, the United States and the Soviet Union, achieved the normalization of diplomatic ties with China and worked with China to promote the "peaceful and friendly" bilateral ties.

China has become the target of criticism by Western countries since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, so that Japan's established ideologies toward China as well as its superiority over China in terms of values have accordingly mounted. This has made the “billboard” of friendship between China and Japan unable to cover the disputes between the two countries.

The arrogant attitude shown by some Japanese in terms of reflecting on the history of its aggression against China has caused the Chinese people to hold negative feelings toward Japan. The mutual distrust between the two countries has even outweighed their consideration for respective interests. Influenced by the public opinion, Japan's politicians have had to occasionally make irrational policy choices.

Third, the rise of China is an important factor that affects Japan's foreign policy toward China. The rise of China is an important event of the 21st century. Japan, as a close neighbor of China, has mixed feelings about it it, and the students of the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management are especially sensitive to it.

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arkhangelsk at 2011-09-03210.177.156.*
A suprisingly moderate essay for the People"s Daily

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