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  • Oct 20, 2014
  • Updated: 5:46pm

Sino-Japanese relations

The relationship between the two largest economies in Asia has been marred throughout the 20th century due to territorial and political disputes including Taiwanese sovereignty; the invasion of China by Japan in the second world war and Japan’s subsequent refusal to acknowledge the extent of its war crimes; territorial disputes surrounding the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands and associated fishing rights and energy resources; and Japanese-American security co-operation.   

CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Sino-Japan ties in need of urgent repair

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 April, 2014, 5:19am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 April, 2014, 5:19am
 

Throughout the ups and downs of relations between China and Japan, their governments have separated business from politics. A Shanghai court's seizure of a Japanese iron ore carrier to enforce a verdict over a claimed pre-war debt threatens arrangements. The increasing lack of regard by both sides for agreements shows how low ties have sunk. Only dialogue will save trade and investment links.

No Chinese court previously had ordered the seizure of Japanese assets in relation to the country's invasion and war-time aggression. The confiscated ship was owned by the conglomerate Mitsui OSK Lines, which had ignored a 2007 court ruling to pay compensation over two Chinese ships leased in 1936 by a predecessor of the firm. Both were later taken by the Japanese military and sunk during the war. The Mitsui carrier was freed on Thursday after the firm paid about US$28.5 million to cover outstanding costs. Beijing portrayed the case as being purely a business dispute, but it is nonetheless likely to embolden activists seeking redress from Japan. Tokyo has consistently argued that treaties it signed after the second world war and in restoring relations with China in 1972 exempt it from having to pay damages. The mainland for decades discouraged citizens from seeking compensation and Japanese courts rejected most claims. But a Beijing court in February accepted a case by Chinese seeking redress for claimed enforced labour by Japanese firms during the war.

Disregard by nationalist Japanese leaders of the resentment felt in the region feeds the desire for retribution. Last week, 150 politicians paid respects to Japan's war dead at the controversial Yasukuni shrine, a day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering. Revisionist statements by ultra-conservative lawmakers, school textbooks that whitewash history and government policies that give neighbouring countries that suffered during the war a sense that Japan is returning to those aggressive, militaristic, ways are obvious causes for concern.

Japan denounced the ship's seizure, warning it could have a "chilling effect on all Japanese companies doing business in China". That could well be the case, showing how far the relationship has been allowed to deteriorate. Tokyo's purchase of some of the disputed Diaoyu Islands deepened the crisis in 2012; only by acknowledging its mistake and being open to talks can there be a chance of ties being repaired.

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This article is now closed to comments

How About
Imagine, for a second that China and Japan can coexist and work towards a more peaceful Pacific 21st Century, that the world's current second and third largest economies join hands and provide all of the world's needs? Too dreamerly, but what's wrong with that picture?
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Too much testosterone, machismo, and pride at stake? No just so I can spit in your face, and say I'm better than you?
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It's all workable..., eventually!
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baysidedweller
Agree, but how??
US is not taking the initiative to be the middleman as demonstrated in Obama's recent visit to Tokyo. Instead, he explicitly included Senkaku islands under Article 5 of the US-Japan security treaty in the written joint statement released on April 25, 2014.
This is a lose lose proposition for all and maybe we have to wait to see who can take the most pain before we can see any improvement in their relationship.
As indicated in your closing remarks, I gather you are referring to Japan to "acknowledging its mistake and being open to talks can there be a chance of ties being repaired".
So to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: please read this editorial and seriously consider rapprochement with China before the situation snowballs out of control.
 
 
 
 
 

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