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Backing needed for political moderates

(Global Times)

08:35, July 06, 2012

Sino-Japanese relations are currently worsening, thanks to a combination of the quarrel over the Diaoyu Islands and historical issues. Territorial issues are meaningful, but we shouldn't let historical problems interfere with the relationship.

Former Chinese leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping both chose to put aside controversial issues between Japan and China. Mao put national security before historical problems and Deng focused on the construction of modernization. Their constant efforts contributed to China's well-developed relations with Japan from 1972 and the honeymoon period of Sino-Japanese relations after 1978, and Deng's visit to Japan. When the government drafts a bilateral diplomatic policy, it should cautiously weigh what's most important.

The US-Japan military alliance functions smoothly and guarantees a bond of interest between the two nations, without being influenced by historical issues. The US adopts a pragmatic diplomatic policy, dealing out rewards and punishments as necessary.

When former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama held power, he brought up revolutionary ideas to renew Japan's cooperation with China in regional issues, and excluded the US from his proposed East Asian Community. His appeals received a strong wave of criticism from the US and US President Barack Obama put pressure on Hatoyama both politically and diplomatically. Meanwhile, the Chinese government failed to positively react to Yukio's pro-China policies.

The failure of Hatoyama's pro-China, anti-US policies made many Japanese politicians conclude that a pro-US diplomatic policy is necessary for political survival. The failure of Naoto Kan, another pro-China former Japanese prime minister, has also somewhat proved this rule.

Japanese right-wing politicians' extreme attacks on China in recent years are not a newly emerging phenomenon but have gradually formed and are now deeply rooted in Japan.

China should reflect on whether right-wing politicians should be allowed to run rampant, or whether it should give more support to moderate Japanese leaders.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Fu Qiang based on an interview with Zhao Quansheng, professor of international relations and director of Center for Asian Studies at American University.


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