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Mixed attitudes make for difficult diplomacy

(Global Times)

08:36, July 06, 2012

The different attitudes to history in China and Japan still negatively affect bilateral relations.

In the Joint Communiqué of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China in 1972, the Japanese government stated it would deeply reflect on its aggression against China and the hurts and damage it brought to the Chinese people. On August 15, 1995, then Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama delivered a speech reflecting on Japan's aggression and imperialism in Asia and apologized for the past.

This is the officially publicized attitude of Japanese government. However, in practice, the actions of some Japanese politicians make it hard for countries like China and South Korea to believe these apologies are sincere.

Some Japanese leaders are keen on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. They argued they are honoring those who sacrificed their life for the country, but for the Chinese and South Korean governments, it is worship of the war criminals and evidence that Japan hasn't conducted sincere self-reflection.

Even in the non-governmental area, there are diverse understandings about Japan's historical aggression. Attitudes that intentionally obscure and deny the nature of the invasion still exist.

Japanese political scientist Takashi Inoguchi has pointed out that it may be difficult for many Japanese to admit that the war was totally wrong. Japan's national identity is thoroughly embedded in the continuity and purpose of the modern history of the nation. War is viewed as a contribution to the development of Japan's modern history. If the imperialist and aggressive nature of the Pacific War is exposed, then Japan's national identity will be threatened.

In Japan, people's understandings of the war are complicated. Although the government has made public apologies, the Japanese public does not reflect particularly deeply on the war.

Today China and Japan are the world's second and third biggest economies. The two have close economic ties and are highly economically dependent on each other, but there is a big gap in recognizing history. Such a problem cannot be solved easily or quickly, and maintaining a steady relationship against the backdrop of these problems is an important political topic.


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