• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 6:24pm

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

To repair Sino-Japan ties, it's up to Shinzo Abe to show sincerity

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 4:08am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 8:53am

Talks between President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are the best way to break the stalemate over the disputed Diaoyu islands and start repairing ties. Discord is such that they have gone out of their way to avoid meeting one another; a multilateral setting at which there is a chance of dialogue offers the best opportunity. There is no better venue for that than the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing in November. But for that to happen, the Japanese leader has to first show resolve by avoiding repeating his mistake of visiting the Yasukuni shrine.

A Japanese official has hinted that Abe will avoid the shrine honouring war dead for the August 15 anniversary of Japan's second world war defeat. China has made that a pre-condition for talks, so it would obviously be a good start. But Abe's nationalist tendencies and pressure from the political far right make for uncertainties; he went to Yasukuni last December with dozens of other politicians, outraging Beijing and Seoul and displeasing ally Washington. Offence will be caused even if he sends a ritual offering or his colleagues visit.

Abe has called for talks with Xi and sent a personal message expressing that desire through former prime minister Yasuo Fukuda, who visited Beijing last month. Xi reportedly agreed that there was a need for dialogue, but China has been firm on conditions regarding Yasukuni and the territorial dispute. Beijing's position is understandable: Abe's shrine visit, his pushing for a reinterpretation of Japan's pacifist constitution so that the military can fight overseas and perceived disregard for his country's imperial war-time aggression against its neighbours casts doubt over his sincerity.

The costs of continued tension between China and Japan, the world's second and third-biggest economies, is high. Trade, crucial for economic reform plans, has been disrupted. Dialogue, negotiation and cooperation are needed to solve shared problems. A public statement by Abe that the Yasukuni shrine will not be on his agenda will set the right tone for talks.


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Yi is absolutely right! The era when China is divided and occupied by foreign powers is over. China does not need to be dictated by the US, Britain, and especially Japan.
Abe's personal diary - August 11, 2014 - "It's such a shame... My father and his father fought gloriously in wars against China, and achieved so much. They killed and raped and occupied... Now, when it's my turn, I only get to defend a bunch of rocks, and cannot even go to the local Shrine freely..."
A Matsui
The ancestors of Shinzo Abe are so barbaric that they even ate Indian POWs.
Shinzo Abe as his LDP prays to his barbaric ancestors war criminals at the Yasukuni War Shrine. Makes him no different from his cannibal ancestors.
A Kuro
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is a liar, provocateur, dishonourable devil worshiper and glorifier of Japanese aggression. What sincerity can this evil man and the evil Japanese government show?
This month talk, next month war-crime shrine.
A Matsui
The war-criminals worshipping, Japanese war-crimes glorifying Shinzo Abe and his LDP colleagues do not have any sincerity nor any decent human values. They like their barbarous ancestors when raping and murdering the hundred of thousands of sex-slaves or slaughtering defenceless civilians and American POWs have no qualms about lying and committing crimes against humanity. The two atomic bombs to some extent castrated these rapists war-criminals but now the descendants of these war-criminals are starting to behave like their evil ancestors who surrendered dishonourably but did not reform nor compensated the millions of victims of their crimes against humanity. people like Shinzo Abe that glorify Japanese war-crimes should be treated with the contempt they deserves.
How About
China should call Abe's bluffs, let him to drop his pretenses and move in to Yasukuni Shrine to live and breathe with all his ancestors, unleash more Yen-QE, let loose the mother of inflation in all of Japan, build a navy outpost at Diaoyu island...
Abe is very good at "talks".
Talk is cheap, sincerity is what matters.
If Abe wants to have a substantive dialogue with Xi instead of just shaking hands in November, he needs to admit that dispute exists on the sovereignty of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.
As you pointed out correctly, China and Japan are the second and third largest economies in the world. But there are differences, China is still growing at a fast clip while Japan is trying to get out of it's economic doldrums for the past 20 plus years and so far, abenomics is not working out as planned. So IMO, Japan will be feeling the pain more than China during this period.
Abe should understand the situation better than anyone else and start negotiating with China on the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands before Xi bypass him and wait for the next successor to do the negotiation with.
While you may suggest doubt about Abe's sincerity, Beijing's lack of sincerity is beyond doubt because its position has been plainly declared by Yi Xianliang, the deputy director general of the ministry's department of boundary and oceanic affairs: "What China will do, or won't do, is determined by the Chinese government. No other people can change the stance of the Chinese government." Editor Wang, you often like to slip in the adjective "hawkish" before Abe in your articles; what adjective might you choose, if you were honest about it, for the Beijing's stance? You might want to try "tyrannical"?


SCMP.com Account