• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 2:58pm

New governor of Tokyo says he wants to help improve Japan-China ties

Governor Yoichi Masuzoe says he wants to help Beijing with welfare and environment problems

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 9:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 9:48pm

The new head of Tokyo has promised to help mend Japan's strained ties with China through city-level diplomacy, saying he could help with Beijing's air pollution and demographic challenges from its one-child policy.

Governor Yoichi Masuzoe was elected last month to head one of the world's biggest cities with backing from the ruling conservative party. He replaced Naoki Inose, who resigned after a year due to a loans scandal.

The 65-year-old Masuzoe, who previously served as Japan's welfare minister, as well as a political television pundit and international politics professor, said he wanted to do his part to mend rocky Japan-China relations.

The two countries are locked in a territorial row, with the relationship further soured by resentment over Japan's imperialist expansion across Asia in the first half of the 20th century.

"The bilateral relationship with [China] is so bad, as you know. Foreign diplomacy is almost broken," Masuzoe said in his first briefing with foreign media yesterday.

"I'd like to improve it by helping with their environmental problems and also social welfare. I am not a foreign minister, nor prime minister. But at least, as the governor of Tokyo, I can do something," he added.

Until 2012, Tokyo had been governed for 13 years by Shintaro Ishihara, a hard-charging nationalist known for his anti-China views and who led a campaign to nationalise islands at the centre of the Japan-China territorial dispute.

Masuzoe said he would like to co-operate with Beijing on tackling the city's notoriously bad air pollution, a problem that affects many Chinese cities. Tokyo's air is relatively clean, despite its huge size with about 30 million people in the greater metropolitan area and a maze of expressways.

Tokyo's chief added that he would work with Beijing on welfare programmes as China faces a demographic struggle, partly owing to its one-child policy.

Japan also has a rapidly ageing population which is straining the public purse. It also has a low birth rate.

Masuzoe said he wanted to visit Beijing "as soon as possible" to learn from China's experience hosting the 2008 Olympics, including how to avoid the under-use of stadiums after the event.

Tokyo is preparing to host the 2020 Games and faces a massive task in building new venues and updating the city's infrastructure.


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This article is now closed to comments

Max Diethelm
The Yasukuni Shrine not only enshrines 14 Class A war criminals like Hideki Tojo that epitomises Japanese barbarism and fascism, for a long time under the State Shinto religion is was the place where Japanese fascist soldiers stage a march past before being despatch to war in Asia. This is a war shrine without a doubt based on barbarism and the false Shinto religion with a false emperor God Hirohito. Mikado is absolute right in demanding that Japan close down this notorious evil place as a mark of goodwill to the people of Asia and the world.
As a start to improving ties with the other North East Asian countries, Governor Yoichi Masuzoe should close down the controversial Yasukuni War Shrine.
Max Diethelm
Sino-Japanese relations is bad precisely because of Japanese recalcitrance and the dishonourable behaviour of the Japanese fascists like Shinzo Abe.
Yasukuni is not a War Shrine. There is a War Musuem at the Yasukuni shrine, but the Shrine is not about war.
For reasons why the Japanese pray at Yasukuni, you should read this article @ bit.ly/1omaNxI
Because of people like you, Sino-Japanese relations have always been forestalled.


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