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Editorial: Leaders of Japan, China, ROK must break out of stagnation

  • 2015-11-03 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: November 2, 2015 – p. 8)

 

 The leaders of Japan, China and South Korea held a trilateral summit after a three-and-half year hiatus. Now is time for the three countries to break away from their unfruitful situation.

 

 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and South Korean President Park Geun-hye held talks yesterday at the presidential office in Seoul. Although annual trilateral summit talks started in 2008, they had been suspended since 2013 due to the deterioration of relations between Japan and China and Japan and South Korea.

 

 Prime Minister Abe said at a joint press conference after the summit: “It is a significant that we have normalized the process of cooperation between Japan, China and South Korea.” However, it is too early to be pleased with the results of the trilateral summit talks. The three countries have merely restarted their summit talks to build truly cooperative relationships.

 

 The suspension of mutual visits by political leaders has prevented economic and private-sector exchanges at a time when an unprecedented number of people are traveling for business and sightseeing. This is exactly political negligence. Trilateral summit talks are now gradually returning to normal.

 

 Diplomatic relations with neighboring countries are significant for Japan’s foreign policy.

 

 Admittedly, since there remain history and territorial issues between Japan, China and South Korea, it is easy for there to arise friction between the three countries. If the three countries suspend government and private-sector exchanges, their relationships will not mature.

 

 The leaders of the three countries should refrain from exploiting nationalism by playing up the history and territorial issues. It is important for Japan to pave the way for an environment in which the three countries can cooperate without feeling uncomfortable while keeping its stance of facing history squarely.

 

 The Chinese and South Korean leaders also should refrain from using history as a political card and they should display leadership aiming at a mutually beneficial relationship in a rational way.

 

 In that sense, it is meaningful that the three leaders reconfirmed the resumption of annual trilateral summit talks.

 

 China and South Korea have a strong interest in the broad agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade accord. The joint declaration this time around also stipulated that the three countries will accelerate negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA), which has been stalled. We hope the three countries will steadily promote the FTA talks they advocated in the joint declaration and make efforts to enhance regional economic power.

 

 Although Northeast Asia is now a major economic power in the world, cooperation between governments is an area in which the region lags behind. There remain many issues on which the three countries can cooperate such as energy, disasters, the environment, and terrorism prevention.

 

 Next year, Japan will host the trilateral summit talks. The leaders of China and South Korea plan to visit Japan. In order to continue the resumed trilateral summit dialogue, Japan should exercise leadership in regaining the confidence of the region and fulfill its responsibility. (Slightly abridged)

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