Japan's envoy urges closer relationship

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2007, 12:00am

China and Japan should work together to share global burdens and responsibilities because of their capacity to influence the Asian economy, the Japanese ambassador to China said yesterday.

China's rapidly expanding economy would soon surpass that of Japan, but Japan would maintain its advantage, Yuji Miyamoto said in Hong Kong.

'Japan will never cease to be a leading economic giant because today's Japan is the result of the Japanese way of life, or Japan itself,' the ambassador said.

'And that Japan will not disappear for a century or so. This Japan is now determined to speak out to defend or further its interests or integrity that it defines itself.'

But Mr Miyamoto also said that, based on experience, any confrontation between China and Japan would harm a viable political or economic framework in the region.

'In other words, Japan and China must construct a reliable, predictable and co-operative bilateral relationship based upon long-term and well-defined national interests,' he said.

The ambassador said full recognition and understanding of 'strategic common interests' would be prerequisites for a new formula for Sino-Japanese ties.

The sinologist, who studied Chinese in Taiwan in the early 1970s, advised both sides to find a way to fine-tune the mutual relationship because there were plenty of reasons for China and Japan to work together for the prosperity of the region.

Mr Miyamoto said East Asia accounted for 20 per cent of world gross domestic product in 2005, but it was only 11 per cent when the two countries normalised relations in 1972.

'Japan and China are indispensable parts and significant members of the interdependent world community,' he said.

'As the leading economies with political influence in the region, Japan and China must play an appropriate role,' he said, urging China to try to understand Japanese culture from its history.

He said he knew the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s shaped Chinese perceptions of his country.

'Soldiers are trained to kill enemies in war in any country at any time. The Japanese that the Chinese masses encountered were killers, not somebody's father or husband or brother or lover,' Mr Miyamoto said.

'The image of the Japanese in Chinese minds was formed under these unusual and extreme circumstances.'

He said Chinese should understand more about post-war Japan and its current attitude to militarism.

'Japan's political, economic and social structures were fundamentally altered, while the post-war economic development and prosperity fundamentally satisfied Japanese citizens.

'But however you define it, there is no room for the revival of militarism in today's Japan.'