(Sankei: November 2, 2015 – p. 2)
The leaders of Japan, China, and South Korea have resumed talks, which had been suspended for three and a half years.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korea President Park Geun-hye agreed to revive annual summits and hold one in Japan.
However, in order to keep Japan in check, the Chinese and South Korean leaders voiced their obsession with the issues of historical perception. There was no reference to the South China Sea, over which China has strengthen its effective control.
Although cooperation by neighboring countries is indispensable, we can’t expect the realization of “future-oriented” cooperation advocated in the joint declaration unless the three countries turn their eyes to the deterioration of the security environment in the region.
The three leaders agreed to urge North Korea to take concrete action for denuclearization. Prime Minister Abe sought China and South Korea for their cooperation to resolve the abduction issue.
North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons is an immediate threat, and the abduction issue is one of the priority issues. The framework of the three countries can be made great use of.
Meantime, the joint statement stipulates that “facing history squarely” is the premise for “future-oriented” relations. Do China and South Korea want to use trilateral summits as venues for holding Japan in check? Unless the three countries correct their distorted relations, they won’t be able to realize true cooperation.
It makes sense that Prime Minister Abe said, “It is not productive to focus too much on a certain period of the past.”
Immediately before the trilateral summit, tensions over the South China Sea grew between the United States and China. The U.S. dispatched a Navy destroyer to waters within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands built by China.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague, the Netherlands, has decided to start a full-scale examination on the Philippines’ complaint that waters around the artificial island are not “territorial waters” of China under international law.
In spite of the fact that the international community has a strong interest in this issue, the three countries did not refer to it. This is extremely strange.
We also cannot understand that in their summit the Japanese and Chinese leaders agreed “not to divulge their discussions on sensitive issues.” Prime Minister Abe seems to have expressed concern about the South China Sea issue, but why does he not disclose this?
Chinese public vessels have repeatedly intruded into waters around the Senkaku Islands, and China has unilaterally developed gas fields in the East China Sea. We wonder how the international community sees Japan, which does not bring to the attention of domestic or international audiences serious concerns about violations of international law and Japan’s sovereignty.