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Urgent action needed to prevent China-Japan ties from further worsening

(People's Daily Online)

08:17, June 19, 2012

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, but their bilateral relations have worsened rather than improved in the first half of the year. One of the main reasons is that Japan’s right-wing forces have spared no effort to damage China-Japan relations. The administration of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, which has been busy dealing with domestic political issues, has been led by the nose by right-wing forces, and failed to create a favorable domestic environment for improving China-Japan relations.

First, the Japanese right-wing forces have taken advantage of the dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, to undermine the relations between the two countries. The farce of “buying the Diaoyu Islands” launched by Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara seems to be getting bigger. While continuing to raise money, Ishihara is enticing the Japanese government to participate, and has announced that he will soon conduct an investigation of the disputed area, and may even visit the Diaoyu Islands once again. In addition, six Japanese congress members recently participated in a fishing competition in the waters of the Diaoyu Islands held by right-wing groups. The Japanese coast guard escorted them there, instead of stopping them. These actions constitute severe provocations to China’s sovereignty, but cannot change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China.

Second, the Japanese right-wing forces have been suppressing dissident opinions. Uichiro Niwa, the Japanese ambassador to China, recently warned in an interview with a British media outlet that plans by the Tokyo municipal government to buy the Diaoyu Islands could spark an “extremely grave crisis.” Niwa’s warning was aimed at protecting Japan’s national interests and relations with China, and reflected the concerns of the majority of the Japanese people working or studying in China. However, Niwa has been cautioned by the Japanese government over his remarks, which the government said were “personal opinions” that could not represent its position, and might be wrongly interpreted as the government’s recognition of territorial disputes with China. By doing so, the Japanese government provided indirect support for Ishihara’s farce of “buying the Diaoyu Islands,” and appeared to inadvertently play a “supporting role” in the farce.

The Japanese right-wing forces and some opposition parties attempted to accuse the ruling party of inappropriate appointment and demanded the dismissal of the Ambassador instead of letting it go at that. The political right deviationist and some decision-makers' wrong opinions toward China in Japan have left Japan lost in its foreign policy toward China. Currently, the critical problem that Japan has to face is whether it could continue to tolerate the disruption and damage to Chinese-Japanese relations because of the Diaoyu Island issue, rather than realizing its intentions to this regard by utilizing the right-wing forces. Only with this understanding, can we be aware that what the Japanese society should criticize is the right-wing words regarding to the Diaoyu Island issue, which is definitely the real detriment of Japan's national interests.

We suggest the Japanese in power carefully read the book "The Way to Deal with China" written by the former Japanese Ambassador to China Yuji Miyamoto and published in January last year. The Chapter 2 of this book is titled "Three Major Problems in Japan", one of which is the "territorial issues" and suggests the Chinese and Japanese governments initiate dialogue and consultation immediately. However, there is worry that the surge of the evil right-wing forces may make this claim suppressed in Japan, a country claiming itself a nation with freedom of speech and democracy.

The Democratic Party of Japan has ruled Japan less than three years and should cherish the trust of the Japanese electorates and the friendship exchanges with China. One of the models whom the Democratic Party should learn from is former Japanese Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira, who had the courage to challenge the right-wing forces and convinced that "a humble sincerity is much more workable than skilled sham", and organized a brainstorm among the open-minded Japanese elites. His behaviors not only ensured the security and prosperity of Japan at a lower cost, but also won Japan acclaims in the international arena and respect from China, and got Chinese and Japanese people closer and more harmonious. The essence of his success is nothing but righteousness. The top priority for current Chinese - Japanese relations is to uphold the good and suppress the bad.

Read the Chinese version: 中日关系亟需扶正压邪
, source: People's Daily Overseas Edition , author: Liu Jiangyong

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