Prospects of a Thaw in Sino-Japanese Relations


NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang met LDP Vice President Masahiko Kōmura

NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang met LDP Vice President Masahiko Kōmura

In my post “US World Leadership More Important than Improving Economy?” on July 11, I said, “Diplomatically, China shall try to improve its relation with Japan as its disputes with Japan does not involve much interest but tension with Japan will affect Chinese economy as Japan is China’s important trade partner.”

Easing tension between China and Japan will also please the US and reduce the possibility of conflict between China and the US.

It seems both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have been making efforts in that direction.

TBS reported on July 13 that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping that he hoped to hold a meeting with Xi. The message was sent in May through Abe’s senior assistant Masahiko Kōmura, vice president of LDP, when he visited Beijing in May. In addition, Kōmura said that Abe would no longer visit Yasukuni Shrine if there is a turn for the better in Sino-Japanese relations.

The information was revealed by Kōmura when he met Iokibe Makot, chairperson of board of trustees of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto.

Kōmura said that when he met NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang, he said, “if there is improvement in Japanese-Chinese relations, I think there will absolutely be no such thing as the Prime Minister’s visit (to Yasukuni Shrine)” Of course Kōmura said in addition that was but his personal opinion. He said that he had passed Abe’s oral message through Zhang to President Xi Jinping that Abe hoped that a Sino-Japanese summit meeting could be accomplished during the APEC meeting in Beijing in the coming November. Regarding to this, Zhang said: “I will pass the message to President Xi.” Kōmura said: “My impression is that there is still hope (for the meeting).”

In his meeting with Makot, Kōmura said that Prime Minister Abe did not visit Yasukuni Shrine during his first term as Japanese Prime Minister because he thought there would be improvement in Japanese-Chinese relations as long as he restrained himself from the visit. However, at the end of last year, “it was not possible to improve the relations between the two countries even if he restrained himself; therefore, his only frame of mind was to visit the shrine.”

Moreover, Kōmura believes: “Undoubtedly, both Prime Minister Abe and President Xi are thinking about the way to return to the original mutual beneficial strategic relations.” Therefore, he said that in order to improve the relations between the two countries, a summit meeting must definitely be held.

This blogger believes that as so far there has been no news about Xi Jinping’s rejection of Abe’s request, there must be intensive secret talks to remove some major obstacles to the meeting. Anyway, it is good news that both sides have the intention to improve relations to make military confrontation less likely.

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