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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Editorial: Japan, China must make concessions to rebuild mutually beneficial relationship

  • July 9, 2017
  • , The Japan News , 7:37 p.m.
  • English Press

Both Japan and China have responsibility for peace and prosperity in Asia. The two sides should make concessions to build stable bilateral relations in order to tackle various issues in a cooperative manner.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Germany. For the improvement of Japan-China relations, the two leaders shared the view that dialogue between them should be enhanced, and that economic cooperation and exchanges of ordinary citizens should be widely promoted.


The prime minister stated, “I would like to build new Japan-China relations,” and proposed reciprocal visits for bilateral summit talks and the early realization of Japan-China-South Korea summit talks. Xi emphasized that “I want to advance relationships in the right direction with responsibility and a sense of mission.”


Japan and China will mark the 45th anniversary of the normalization of their diplomatic relations in September and the 40th anniversary of concluding the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty in August next year. With these opportunities, it is important to realize regular reciprocal visits of top leaders and rebuild a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.”


The prime minister expressed his intention to cooperate in China’s massive “One Belt, One Road” economic zone initiative. Abe urged Xi to fully adopt “common views of the international community” such as transparency and economic efficiency in the initiative.


The “One Belt, One Road” initiative has a certain significance in that infrastructure will be developed in each country from Asia through Europe. However, the international community is concerned about China’s hegemonic intentions.


Chinese restraint crucial


It is important to ensure openness and publicness in the initiative so that it will not lead to an expansion of military facilities or the creation of an exclusive sphere of influence. With cooperation from Japan, which has abundant experience in supporting developing countries, the initiative should allow the whole zone to enjoy the benefits.


As with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which was established under China’s initiative, it is necessary to pay close attention to whether governance is sound.


It is vital to expand cooperation, while making requests for things that should be revised.


On the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles, Abe called for a tough response, saying: “It is important to strengthen the pressure on North Korea now. I want China to play an even more constructive role.”


Xi only made responses such as, “China is faithfully observing U.N. Security Council resolutions.” To stop North Korea’s reckless drive, China should decide on more effective sanctions such as limiting crude oil supplies.


What should not be overlooked is the regular incursion by Chinese government vessels into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. Last week, a Chinese warship passed through Japan’s territorial waters in the Tsugaru Strait. Self-restraint by China is indispensable for fostering trust between Japan and China.


The Japanese and Chinese governments have repeatedly held working-level maritime talks. Putting a “maritime and air liaison mechanism” into operation is urgently needed to prevent accidental clashes between the Self-Defense Forces and the Chinese military. At the same time, the two sides should aim to resume negotiations for the joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea.

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