How to Improve China-Japan Ties
Image Credit: Anton Raath

How to Improve China-Japan Ties

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Promoting global economic recovery and managing the consequences of climate change might officially top the agenda at this week’s Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels. But most international attention has been focused on something quite different—whether Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao would actually speak to each other.

The two did reportedly meet for almost half an hour after dinner last night, the kind of exchange that's essential if the two sides are going to start addressing lingering tensions over the September 8 incident in which a Chinese fishing trawler collided—the Japanese say deliberately—with two Japan Coast Guard patrol boats sent to escort the vessel from disputed islands in the East China Sea. The uninhabited islets (Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China) are controlled by Japan, but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

The Japanese initially detained the crew before releasing most of them several days later. But they kept the captain for further questioning and possible trial. The Chinese government responded with increasingly vehement protests and warnings, with authorities eventually arresting four employees of Japan’s Fujita Corp, as well as an accompanying Chinese worker, on September 20. The Chinese accused them of supposedly entering and filming a restricted military zone in Shijiazhuang.

The Japanese have since released the captain, but the Chinese continue to detain one of the four Fujita employees. Yoshiro Sasaki, Hiroki Hashimoto and Junichi Iguchi returned home this weekend, but Sadamu Takahashi remains in custody pending further investigation.

Although the four Fujita employers were detained as possible Japanese spies, they were actually assessing whether to bid on a Japanese government project to construct a facility to dispose of chemical weapons the Imperial Japanese Army abandoned in China at the end of World War II. Ironically, then, the September 25 arrests have actually highlighted an area of past Sino-Japanese conflict in which the two countries are now cooperating—chemical weapons.

The Imperial Japanese Army, which brutally occupied much of China in the years leading up to 1945, left hundreds of thousands of chemical weapons shells on Chinese territory after Japan surrendered. But it’s only relatively recently that the two countries have begun eliminating these weapons, following years of delays.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which took effect in 1997, requires its parties to destroy any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of another country. Japan has accordingly committed to paying all the costs associated with eliminating the former Imperial Japanese Army’s stockpile, including excavating the weapons, transporting them to a disposal point and eliminating them in an environmentally acceptable manner.

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11
typhoonq
January 31, 2011 at 10:50

We have approximately 50,000 Chinese civilians massacred by Japanese Army during the “Sook Ching” excercise after they had captured Singapore on Feb 15th 1942,

Most of them were mowed down by machine guns at the former Changi Beach which is now reclaimed as Changi Int Airport.

My generation will never forget of this inhuman atrocities created by the Japanese Army. Each time, when I see right wing Japanese politicians visiting
the Yasukumi Shrine to pay respect to their former War crime leaders, it made my heart boil with anger.

Several year ago, a group of Japanese students came to Singapore for a study tour. They were shock to hear of their former Army atrocities and some even cried and they confessed they learnt very little from their school history text books.

We have to be vigilante and be prepared for the Japanese military build up because they are not geniunely feel remorseful of their past criminal acts and tried to white wash history.

Xie Wen
January 29, 2011 at 10:30

@John Chan. yes John and i quote you: “Anybody wants to be involved in How-to-improve-China-Japan-ties, he must first study China national anthem, which is a battle cry, called on all Chinese to fight against Japanese occupation and aggression. It rallied millions of Chinese, adult and youth, giving up their lives for the struggle. Singing national anthem is the first day of business in all schools in China. Then he must visit the war museum in Nanking or hundreds of other war museums around China. Finally he can get a second opinion from South Koreans about Japan. After he has done his homework, he will have a right frame of mind to come up ideas on How-to-improve-China-Japan-ties. His ideas will likely be a balanced, well-thought and practical one.”

You are obviously very familiar with China’s nationalistic culture — its rallying of its young every morning for battle, its constant reminder to its young of the injustices of the past; its perpetual anger against those who had caused it hurt 70 years ago. And no doubt, you have the right frame of mind to come up with “balanced” ideas on how to improve relations between China and japan.

The Japanese remember the war with profound national sadness, every year commemorating Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and vowing “never again” to head down the militaristic road. Meanwhile, the Japanese remind their children every day to hate the Japanese and ‘rally them for battle” (your words not mine).

The more China rallies its people against the japanese, the more the japanese will reconsider its will to “never again” militarise. not helpful John.

Xie Wen
January 29, 2011 at 09:29

Too right! As I had pointed out on another post, it is undeniable the Chinese suffered hurt at the hands of the Japanese and others. But its obsessive nurturing of these hurts is as much worrying as it is cynical. It has created generation after generation with the “Bruce Lee syndrome”. From Bruce Lee’s “Fist of Fury” in the 1980s to Donnie Yen’s “Ip Man” 2010, it is a broken down record of a Chinese hero beating up every white “devil” and (even worse) japanese “devil” in sight. Single handedly, thrashing hundreds of them, restoring national pride amidst stiring nationlistic (yes, martial) music. Cynical because this is then played up and even orchestrated/exploited by a government that finds it convenient to distract the people from the abuses of power and corruption at high levels in the Chinese bureaucracy/power structure. Worrying because it is building up a nation with the power of 2011 and the grievances of 1941. In other words, an angry superpower with a huge chip on its shoulders and many grievances against these foreigners who should be kungfu-ed into the bloodied, quivering mess they are inevitably potrayed, at the end, in all these wildly popular movies. How can China expect an intelligent non-Chinese mind to believe in its “peaceful rise” when it rams “fishing vessels” into japanese coast guard vessels and then proceeds to abuse and threaten the japanese into releasing the captain of the “fishing vessel”. And then staging violent anti-Japanese demonstrations even after having bashed the japanese into submission? (Yes, the Bruce Lee way.) How many would there have been at the Chongqing riots living out their Bruce Lee fantasies?

John Chan
October 14, 2010 at 22:00

Anybody wants to be involved in How-to-improve-China-Japan-ties, he must first study China national anthem, which is a battle cry, called on all Chinese to fight against Japanese occupation and aggression. It rallied millions of Chinese, adult and youth, giving up their lives for the struggle. Singing national anthem is the first day of business in all schools in China. Then he must visit the war museum in Nanking or hundreds of other war museums around China. Finally he can get a second opinion from South Koreans about Japan. After he has done his homework, he will have a right frame of mind to come up ideas on How-to-improve-China-Japan-ties. His ideas will likely be a balanced, well-thought and practical one.
China national anthem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_of_the_Volunteers

John Chan
October 14, 2010 at 09:06

@Craig, I have lived in Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku for some years. Their camping sites like terrace fields. Japanese strike during the lunch hours because they do not want to sacrifice productivity. Japanese is efficient because ordinary Japanese do not lie or deceive so that they don’t waste time on second-guessing. What has changed when you are called 君(kun) instead of 様(san)? If you don’t know these, you know too little about Japanese. Craig, I said “some Japanese as an individual they are decent and nice, but Japanese as a group they are monster.” How many Japanese are monsters? Between 1894 – 1945, about 100 million Japanese were fanatic or killers, and a lot of them are still alive and influential. Right now, the people in their education department who are erasing their WWII crimes from their history books, the people in Japan Coast Guard, as well as the cabinet led by Koizumi Junichiro for a starter. If you are white and your grand parents lived in HK and SE Asia before 1945, they surely will tell you I did no trashing on Japanese.
I have ABC(American Born Chinese) told me Nanking Massacre(rape of Nanking) is a fabrication by the Chinese to smear Japan after a term of summer job in Japan. If you are in the same category as those ABC, obviously you are assimilated.
In international affairs there is no emotion only interests, love and hate cloud judgments, it is no good for conducting international affairs. I do not hate ordinary Japanese, the friendship is the key to build peace and prosperity between Japanese and Chinese. But the last 150 years (way longer than the time you are in Japan) taught China a lot valuable lessons on how to coexist with Japan. As I said, China does not have the luxury of the almighty power possessed by the US, therefore China must be on guard against Japan all the time in order to make sure that Japan is not going to plunge China into hell ever again. 70 millions dead, maimed and raped plus 150 years tragedies is more than enough for anyone ever wanted to go through that again. The anti-China people printed China worse than Japan on this site. I merely point out the truth to the general public. God bless the innocents.

Craig
October 12, 2010 at 18:44

John Chan. How many Japanese people do you actually know personally? Because I’ve never met one that’s anything like the way you describe (and I live in Osaka, so I imagine I’ve met a lot more than you). If you don’t actually know any Japanese people then you have no business trashing a whole race of people. You sound more angry and hateful – and therefore a bigger block to peaceful ties – than anyone else you talk about.

John Chan
October 12, 2010 at 14:25

It’s easy for someone hasn’t any relationship to the ordeal to say “by gone is by gone, rancor is not helpful.” If you know what the Japanese are doing nowadays regarding their deeds in WWII, you will not say what you have said to excuse the Japanese so easily. Japanese believes if there isn’t the US, they would still be the master of Asia. Except to the US, the Japanese never admit defeat to any Asian in their hearts regardless of their age. Only I wish Japanese have shown remorse for they have done in the WWII to Chinese like the Germans have done to show their remorse for what they have done in WWII. All those rituals in the current Daioyu islets incident will not be necessary. Some Japanese are decent people like the ones you met, even I have very good Japanese friends. But Japanese as an entity is a monster. They only respect strength, like the US. Ask Koreans they will tell you how to deal Japanese. Japanese regard good heart as weakness and will take full advantages without hesitation. China just want to guard against Japan in order to make sure that Japan is not going to plunge China into hell ever again. If you are an Indian, good for you, you don’t have to have Japan for a neighbor.

Prof Utonium
October 11, 2010 at 21:21

It was a different time. Most countries did things they should regret, though some do not and others may never admit it.
The people I worked with were born years after all this happened; in a different world, and in a different Japan. They are trying to do what’s right as best they can.
No, we should never forget what happened (to keep it from ever happening again), but your rancor is unhelpful.

A Ch
October 9, 2010 at 07:39

Prof Utonium:
Who burried those chemical weapons in China?

Who were those “unforgiving” weapons supposed to kill?

Japan continues to do “what’s right”. Yea. We know.

Prof Utonium
October 8, 2010 at 00:15

Being an expert on chemical warfare demilitarization and having toured the abandoned chemical weapons (ACW) sites in China, this is a notable technological challenge. Japan has been cautious and conservative in their approach and continue to be pestered to hurry it up. Explosives and lethal toxic chemicals are unforgiving–one mistake and someone dies.

Japan has also had its share of setbacks, the greatest being the dismissal of their long-time contractor (PCI) because of a few, dishonest PCI executives, also prompting JGC to bail (for cause) from the program. All this caused the ACW Office to reinvent the program.

Now they find a capable contractor for the mobile systems and China plays revenge politics for Fujitsu taking photos of a “military installation”. Trust me, I have seen it (and I have old pictures) and its unremarkable.

Still, Japan continues to do “what’s right” and, eventually, with China’s cooperation, they will get this done.

Frank
October 6, 2010 at 02:38

How to Improve China-Japan Ties?

How about not creating troubles for each other for a start?

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