Peace and Prosperity Require Sino-Japanese Calm
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
January 2, 2014
Summary: Taiwan and Mainland China are inseparable culturally. They share a
common destiny. They also have a deep appreciation for the values of
Japan's civil society. We earnestly appeal to Japan. Remove the tablets
of WWII war criminals from the shrine. Reflect on your past misdeeds.
Mainland China should also demonstrate a more mature and rational
attitude. Together we must strive to resolve our differences.
Full text below:
The confrontation between Mainland China and Japan is increasingly fierce. This increases the likelihood of conflict between the two sides. It also casts a shadow over Asian-Pacific peace. These countries have spent a great deal of time and effort to create a stable and prosperous growth environment. But it can be destroyed overnight by reckless action. Mainland China and Japan should calmly resolve their disputes. They should demonstrate a responsible attitude toward national growth and regional stability.
In recent years, frequent clashes have damaged relations between Japan and Mainland China. The proximate cause is the dispute over the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai Islands. For example, when the Japanese government "nationalized" the Diaoyutai Islands, Mainland China responded by conducting routine military patrols through Diaoyutai Island waters. It proclaimed its baselines for an East China Sea ADIZ, and responded in other ways as well.
A few days ago, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ignored Korean feelings and visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, angering the ROK as well. Mainland Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi issued a statement. He called on Abe to acknowledge that his visit to the shrine was a blunder. He said Abe's visit had a bearing on the issue of aggression and resistance to aggression, to right and wrong, to light and dark, and to Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors and the international community.
Mainland Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that Abe slammed the door shut on dialogue with Mainland Chinese leaders. In other words, communication channels between Mainland China and Japan are already closed. If Japan's attitude does not improve, Mainland Chinese leaders will not be holding a summit with Abe.
The last time a currently serving Japanese prime minister visited the Yasukuni Shrine was seven years ago. Junichiro Koizumi's visit worsened Japan's relations with both China and Korea. Later, to reduce tensions, Japanese prime ministers ceased visiting Yasukuni. Abe, alas, is marching down the same ultranationalist path as Koizumi. During his second term, he began taking a hardline militarist path. He increased the military budget. He called for a constitutional amendment and National Defense Program Outline. He is clearly preparing for possible military confrontation.
Actually, far deeper conflicts between China and Japan. underly the Diaoyutai sovereignty dispute.
Historical grievances remain unresolved. Unlike Germany, Japan has never offered a sincere apology for its colonialist past. In recent years, right-wing nationalism and militarism have increased. Attempts have been made to deny the Rape of Nanking, to whitewash Japan's history textbooks and to deny that Japan ever enslaved comfort women. Needless to say, such actions have outraged the victim countries.
The rise of Mainland China is rapidly changing the Asian-Pacific strategic situation. Japan was once first in Asia. Now it has been demoted to second place. Mainland China is challenging the United States' post-war status in the Asian-Pacific region. Japan has long been dependent on the United States. It must consider the prospect that one day Mainland Chinese influence in the Asian-Pacific may overshadow that of the United States. Mainland China may even be able to make an amphibious landing on the Diaoyutai islands. For Japan, that would present an extremely tough challenge. A Mainland Chinese occupation of the Diaoyutai Islands would constitute a major humiliation against Japan's national dignity.
The historical feud must be settled justly. The political map of Asia will surely undergo a major re-shuffle. But these issues need not be settled through conflict. Many major international controversies have been resolved through consultation and dialogue. Nearly 70 years of post-war peace and stability have enabled the Asian-Pacific countries to grow strong. They have enabled them to enrich their people and establish tranquil homelands. Everyone must work together to protect such an environment. They must treasure it. They must not ignore the potential consequences.
Japan must understand why it is constantly being criticized concerning historical grievances. Japan is constantly being criticized because it has stubbornly refused to admit its own wrongdoing. Without sincere repentance, Japan can never be forgiven. Without forgiveness, neither victim nor victimizer, can leave the pain behind. Today's Japan is not being criticized because its military is not sufficiently strong. Japan's stubborn determination to strengthen its military, is not going to improve Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors. It will only reawaken hatred of Japanese militarism.
Mainland China has undergone reform and liberalization. Its economy is growing by leaps and bounds. It has successfully maintained stable growth. This is rare in history. Among developing economies Mainland China still needs catching up. This is an important stage of its growth. Ethnic sentiments must not be allowed to precipitate Sino-Japanese conflict and frustrate the pace of progress. A peaceful and stable environment will contribute to Asian-Pacific prosperity. It also constitutes the basis for Mainland China's rapid economic growth. Domestic problems beleager the Mainland.. The last thing the Mainland needs is impatience in its relations with Japan.
As Xi Jinping noted, the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both the United States and China. In fact, Asia is big enough to accommodate both China and Japan, as well as other Asian countries. The Asian-Pacific countries have similar cultures. They are located close to each other. They enjoy frequent exchanges. There is nothing they cannot sit down and talk over. Where there is a will, there is a way. There is no need for a zero sum game. Everyone can create and share prosperity and progress.
Taiwan and Mainland China are inseparable culturally. They share a common destiny. They also have a deep appreciation for the values of Japan's civil society. We earnestly appeal to Japan. Remove the tablets of WWII war criminals from the shrine. Reflect on your past misdeeds. Mainland China should also demonstrate a more mature and rational attitude. Together we must strive to resolve our differences.