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Sino-Japanese Relations
Will Japan and China Really Ease Tensions?

Japan’s foreign minister is in Beijing this weekend meeting with his Chinese counterpart in an effort to reduce tensions between the two Asian powers. The Japan Times:

The foreign ministers of Japan and China agreed Saturday to step up efforts to accelerate the pace of improvement in political relations between Asia’s two biggest economies.

The Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, which announced the agreement, said Fumio Kishida and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, confirmed in their meeting in Beijing that the two countries are “partners for cooperation” and will not be “a threat for each other.”

Kishida stressed the need of stronger mutual trust by promoting cooperation in various nonpolitical fields, such as economics, the environment and youth exchanges, according to the ministry.

As part of steps to increase interaction among the citizens of the two countries, Kishida told Wang that Japan will further relax multiple entry visa rules for Chinese visitors.

Kishida’s trip marks the first visit of a Japanese foreign minister to China in about 4½ years at a time when the two countries are weighing up when and how to realize more frequent high-level political meetings.

Whatever went on behind closed doors, there was certainly plenty to discuss. According to official accounts, Kishida and Yi discussed the South China Sea, Taiwan, and North Korea in a four hour-long meeting Saturday.

But to get anything done on such a broad set of issues, they will almost certainly need more time than that they took. On North Korea, Japan has been pushing China to be tougher on its misbehaving ally. Although Beijing did sign on to UN sanctions (whether it is enforcing them is another matter), it has resisted pressure to do any more. With Pyongyang expected to conduct another nuclear test and more missile tests in the coming months, it’s likely that North Korea will make Japan-China relations more difficult in the near future.

Meanwhile, in the South China Sea, China has shown no signs of backing off its island fortification efforts. From installing missile systems to landing military aircraft on advanced landing strips, Beijing clearly has no intention of scaling back its plans.

Japan, of course, is more concerned with the East China Sea, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gone toe-to-toe with President Xi Jinping. Japan turned on a radar system in March, and has sailed numerous ships near the islands while stationing fighter jets at the nearby Okinawa base. China responded by sailing its own destroyers through the straits.

So though it’s quite good all told that China and Japan are talking, both sides have taken positions that don’t allow for much give.

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  • Dhako

    On the contrary, its Japan who realize how foolish it was on their part to play “tough guy” against China. And the reason Japan had seen the light is that China simply made it difficult for Japanese companies to profit from China’s continental scale internal market. And in fact, South Korea was given a Free Trade agreement (FTA) by China, to show how if South Korea plays nice with China, then all sort of economical goodies could be theirs to feast on.

    Furthermore this “economically-driven-policy” on the part of China in turn account for why South Korea has been a better friend of China than Japan is or was in recent years. Of course since North Korea had decided to act up in recent months, it seems that South Korea have decided to “hedge” its bets with China on North Korea with another bets of her own with USA, in-terms of given the go-ahead for the Obama’s Administration to put “US’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system” on their soil, just in case China ability to restrain N/Korea turn out to be a “busted bet” for S/Korea.

    And this realization on the part of China, was really what had necessitated for President Xi Jinping to reassure South Korea that they will no be war in the Korean peninsula. And in effect suggest that China will double down her “guarantees” to South Korea that North Korea will never be allow to attack South Korea, either conventionally or otherwise.

    Subsequently, although Seoul is still mulling over whether to give the final go ahead for the THAAD deployment, but the Chinese side are pulling all stops to reassure Seoul that such a drastic game-changing military deployment is strictly unnecessary on the part of South Korea. And, in fact it may come a bit of financial and economical cost for South Korea were they to “ignore” China’s entreaties. So we shall see how this geopolitical movies ends.

    As for Japan, it seems that Japan’s Abenomics fiscal activism seems to have run aground and therefore the economy is decidedly looking a bit dicey for Abe’s Japan Administration. Consequently, the Japanese economical elites are rather pressurizing Prime-Minister Abe to do a bit of volte-face in his approach with China, since the Japanese corporations are feeling the pinch and the “exclusion winds” from the Chinese state.

    So, in a nutshell, Japan’s under Abe had reached it’s end point in playing “tough guy” against China, and crucially they have decided to come to the table, while suitably humble enough to know that no amount of playing a “obedient subaltern” (or even a deputy sergeant) for the US’s beat-cop captain in the Pacific theater, will never get Japan anywhere vis-à-vis China. And in fact it will be economically costly for her. Which is why the Japanese leadership have decided to play nice this time around, since, playing “tough guy” had seriously effected their economical loaf where Chinese huge internal-market is concern.

    • rheddles

      Why does that sound like it was written by a government employee?

      • Tom

        Probably because Dhako actually is one.

      • Angel Martin

        I think most of these Russian and Chinese flying monkeys are actually computer programs.

        I wonder if any of them can pass the Turing test ?

    • ImperiumVita

      China needs only to cease its aggressive postures and tensions will cease. No need for your long paragraph.

      I suppose you are getting paid by the word.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The Russians call it “Maskirovka”, it is deception at strategic levels, and explicitly including political, economic and diplomatic measures besides the military ones. This is what all of the West’s enemies are engaged in doing. China is only at the table for one reason, to distract, deceive, and gain time. In no way are they interested in peace, if they were they wouldn’t be interested in unjustly taking more territory, but rather gaining more market share. They see things not in the Modern Civilized way seeking growth and improvements, but in a dark age way where land is the foundation of wealth and power.

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