US Pushing China, Japan into Each Other’s Arms

Reuters says in its report today that US trade pressures are making China and Japan closer despite their disputes over the Diaoyus (known as Senkaku in Japan) and historical enmity. The following is the full text of the report:

China says Japan’s Abe to make official visit this month

October 12, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit China from Oct. 25 to 27 in the first official visit by a Japanese leader in seven years, China said on Friday, as the United States steps up trade pressure on Beijing and Tokyo.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the joint news conference of the Japan-Mekong Summit Meeting at the Akasaka Palace State Guest House in Tokyo, Japan October 9, 2018. Franck Robichon/Pool via Reuters

President Donald Trump has made clear he is unhappy over Japan’s $69-billion trade surplus with the United States, and wants a two-way agreement to address it with the U.S. ally.

He has also slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese imports for what he calls its trade abuses, prompting retaliation from Beijing.

“We hope this visit by Prime Minister Abe can help consolidate and elevate mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, and promote continuous new development in ties,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing.

China welcomes investment from Japanese firms, he told a regular briefing, adding that increasing trade and economic cooperation between the two major economies benefits both them and the world.

“We attach importance to China-Japan relations.”

Visits by Abe in recent years to attend multilateral events in China have not been considered official visits.

In September, after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Russia, Abe said the two sides had agreed to work toward an October visit, in what was seen as a sign of warming ties between the two Asian rivals.

“Both Japan and China share a big responsibility for the peace and prosperity of this region,” Abe said in a speech in Tokyo on Friday.

He added that he aimed to drive ties between the neighbors to a new level through mutual visits by their leaders and expanded exchanges between their people.

Abe returned to office for a rare second term in December 2012, promising a hard line toward China in a territorial row over tiny islands in the East China Sea.

Although the dispute simmers, relations have stabilized recently amid trade actions by Washington toward both countries.

Reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING and Yoshifumi Takemoto in TOKYO; Editing by Nick Macfie and Clarence Fernandez

Source: Reuters “China says Japan’s Abe to make official visit this month”

Note: The above is the full text of Reuters’ report I comment on. My reblogging of it does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views


Now Japan, How Many Countries Will the US Push into China’s Arms?

We have posts on the US pushing China and Russia into each other’s arms to form a de facto alliance, Pakistan to China’s arms to become China’s iron brother, Iran to facilitate China’s connection to the Middle East. Now, Reuters says in its report “Japan PM Abe says visit to China being arranged for next month”, in spite of territorial dispute, “relations have stabilized recently amid intensifying U.S. trade pressure on both China and Japan”.

Obviously, the US is pushing Japan into China’s arms now!

If Japan is in China’s arms, the US will lose its foothold in Asia.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at

Japan and China’s foreign ministers pledge to pursue improved ties

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) and Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono gesture at their meeting in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2018. Behrouz Mehri/Pool via Reuters

Reuters Staff April 15, 2018

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono and his Chinese counterpart have pledged to improve ties between their nations and affirmed a commitment to stick with U.N. resolutions aimed at forcing North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons.
Kono met the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang YiWang Yi, in Tokyo on Sunday, having made his own official visit to Beijing earlier this year.

Wang is the first Chinese foreign minister to visit Japan in a bilateral context in the nine years since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to reset the sometimes fraught relations between Asia’s two largest economies.

“Through mutual visits between our two leaders we agreed to pursue wide-reaching cooperation and improved ties,” Kono said after Sunday’s meeting.

Economic ties between Japan and China are close, led by corporate investment. The neighbors remain at odds, however, over China’s growing military presence in the South China Sea, through which much of the region’s sea-borne trade sails, and a dispute over ownership of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku in Tokyo and the Diaoyu in Beijing.

Wang said his visit was in response to Japan’s positive attitude towards China.

“Since last year Japan has, in relations with China, displayed a positive message and friendly attitude,” he said.

The talks came ahead of a summit between the two Koreas this month and a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jon Un and U.S. President Donald Trump. The U.S-North Korea talks are aimed at ending a stand-off over Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

“To establish a complete, irreversible and verifiable decentralization of North Korea we agreed to continue to fully implement all relevant U.N. resolutions and to work closely together,” Kono said.

Wang, who spent eight years in Japan as a diplomat, including three as China’s ambassador, is scheduled to hold further talks with Kono and other Japanese Cabinet ministers on Monday.

On Tuesday Japanese Self Defense Force officers will meet counterparts from China’s People’s Liberation Army at a reception hosted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in an effort to build trust between the military rivals.

Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo; Writing by Tim Kelly and Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Sam Holmes and David Goodman

Source: Reuters “Japan and China’s foreign ministers pledge to pursue improved ties”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

China declares intention to improve ties with Japan

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, left, shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi before their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China Jan. 28, 2018. REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool

Ben Blanchard January 28, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – China hopes to work with Japan to establish more cordial relations, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Japanese counterpart on Sunday, aiming to move on from a series of disputes, some dating back to before World War Two.

China and Japan have sparred frequently about their painful history, with Beijing often accusing Tokyo of not properly atoning for Japan’s invasion of China before and during the war.

Ties between China and Japan, the world’s second and third-largest economies, have also been plagued by a long-running territorial dispute over a cluster of East China Sea islets and suspicion in China about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to amend Japan’s pacifist constitution.

The two nations have, however, sought to improve ties more recently, with Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping having met in November on the sidelines of a regional summit in Vietnam.

Wang told Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono that his trip to Beijing, coming so early in the year, showed Japan’s strong wish to improve relations and that China approves of this because better ties would be in both nations’ interests.

Though there has been positive progress, there are also many “disturbances and obstacles”, Wang said, but the minister also pointed to comments from Abe on wanting to improve relations.

“China-Japan ties always sail against the current, either forging ahead or drifting backward,” Wang said in front of reporters at the start of talks with his counterpart.

“We hope that the Japanese side will neither relax in its efforts nor fall back, and turn the spoken statements into concrete actions.”

Kono, who later met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, said that the two countries shared a major responsibility in safeguarding the stability and prosperity of Asia and the world at large.

“Not only do we need to manage our bilateral relations, but we also need to work together to deal with issues facing the entire globe, in particular the issue of North Korea,” Kono said. “We desire to extend mutual cooperation between our two countries in working towards resolving this issue.”

Japan has repeatedly pressed China to do more to help rein in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes. China says it is committed to enforcing U.N. sanctions but that all parties need to do more to reduce tensions and restart talks.

Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama told reporters that China and Japan are aiming to hold several high-level visits this year. These would include Abe visiting China and Xi going to Japan, he said, though no dates have been set.

“Let’s see. It’s all a question of the schedule,” he said.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie and David Goodman

Source: Reuters “China declares intention to improve ties with Japan”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

China says one step forwards, two steps back no good for Japan ties

Reuters Staff September 29, 2017 / 4:36 PM

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign minister on Thursday said that ties with Japan should not take two steps back for every step forward, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a rare appearance at an anniversary event for the normalization of diplomatic relations.

Speaking on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the resumption of ties between Beijing and Tokyo, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Japan’s ambassador to China, Yutaka Yokoi, that he hoped for greater improvement in relations.

“We hope that the Japanese government can pursue a more positive policy towards China… and not take one step back for each step forward, even two steps back for each step forward,” Wang said, according to a statement released on the ministry website on Friday.

Relations have been complicated for decades by the legacy of Japan’s wartime aggression, as well as by a festering territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

Abe on Thursday evening made an appearance at a Chinese embassy event in Tokyo that jointly celebrated the anniversary as well as China’s Oct 1 National Day.

Wang called the appearance “good news” and added: “We hope for more good news in China-Japan relations and not for bad news to follow shortly after good news.”

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Abe also exchanged congratulatory messages on Friday, in which Li said that the two countries should “properly manage and control their contradictions and differences”, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

Japan’s cabinet on Thursday announced Oct. 22 as the date of a snap election where Abe, a conservative who returned to power in 2012, hopes a recent boost in voter support will help his Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition maintain a simple majority. It now holds a two-thirds “super” majority.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Nick Macfie

Source: Reuters “China says one step forwards, two steps back no good for Japan ties”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

China-Japan Ties Problems with History, Attractive in Reality

Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie (R) and Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso shake hands during their bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting, in Yokohama, Japan, Saturday, May 6, 2017. REUTERS/Koji Sasahara/Pool

In its report “Japan, China to boost financial ties amid protectionist, North Korean tensions” yesterday, Reuters seems optimistic about the future of China-Japan ties.

Strange enough, the two historical enemies are interested in improving their ties.

Chinese people hate Japan for its war crimes in World War II that caused lots of misery to China, but Japan are now their favorite tourist destinations and Japanese goods are popular in China for their good quality.

Japanese public surveys find that of all foreign people, Japanese dislike Chinese most but Chinese tourists are welcome as they are rich and willing to spend.

China is certainly interested in Japanese technology and market for China’s labor-intensive goods, but Japan is even more interested in China’s huge market especially after US President Trump has scrapped TPP. Trump is now improving US ties with China for its huge market and has thus turned the US from Japan’s ally in containing China into Japan’s fearful competitor for Chinese market. No wonder, Japan has more earnest desire to improve its ties with China now.

In the above Reuters’ photo, you can see the big joy in Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso’s face but no obvious joy in his Chinese counterpart’s.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be found at

The most important bilateral relationship in the world? China-Japan

Jean-Pierre Lehmann For The Straits Times

How will Japan fare in a Sino-centric Asian century? It bears reminding that after World War II, Japan embarked on a policy of ‘shedding Asia’ and entering the West. It now needs to re-enter Asia and build an equitable relationship with China.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec 7, marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. April 28 next year will mark the 65th anniversary of the United States-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, signed in September 1951.

It took just a decade for Japan to move from being America’s most hated enemy for launching the 1941 attack that President Franklin D. Roosevelt said grimly “will live in infamy” to becoming its major Pacific ally and pampered protege after the 1951 treaty was signed.

In the course of that decade, China, which had been the US’ close ally throughout the Pacific War and fellow victorious power, was ostracised behind the “bamboo curtain”, politically and economically.

Thus was the Asia-Pacific order of the second half of the 20th century, corresponding to the broader global order set after 1945 by Washington, established.

The Japanese modern historical narrative is exceptional. Whereas from the late 18th century, when almost all of Asia was colonised or otherwise subjugated by the West, Japan stood out as the only Asian country to “join” the West and become in turn an imperialist power in its own neighbourhood.


Japan’s 20th-century wars with China had Asian regional cataclysmic effects; were war to break out between the two in the 21st century, it would have devastating global cataclysmic effects. With the US no longer willing to provide protection for Japan, the China-Japan relationship has become, to paraphrase Mike Mansfield, the most important bilateral relationship, bar none.

Having witnessed what happened to China when it sought to resist the apparently inexorable Eastern advance of Western power – the two devastatingly humiliating Opium Wars, 1839-1842 and 1856-1860 – the Japanese leadership under the Meiji Restoration (1868) decided that accommodation was the better part of valour.

In the spirit of Datsu-A Nyu-O, the term subsequently coined by the 19th-century Japanese thought leader (and founder of the prestigious private Keio university) Yukichi Fukuzawa, Japan proceeded to “shed Asia and enter Europe”.

In the ensuing decades, Japan underwent a quite remarkable reform programme (only to be rivalled perhaps by the Chinese reform programme undertaken under Deng Xiaoping over a century later), thereby emerging as a full-fledged industrial and imperialist Asian global power.

In the course of the last century-and-a-half, whereas Japan has had a number of Asian colonies (Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria), it has never had any Asian allies. Japan has stood out as literally the “odd Asian man out”.

On the other hand, it had a succession of Western allies. From 1902 to 1922, there was the Anglo-Japanese alliance, linking the great imperial power of the day, Great Britain, to the emerging Japanese empire.

In the course of the 1930s, relations with Britain (and the US) soured, leading Japan to become the ally of Nazi Germany in its wars against China and the US.

Since 1952, it has been the US’ closest ally in the Asia-Pacific. It followed Washington’s foreign policy lead to the letter. Thus, it refused to recognise the Beijing government of the People’s Republic of China, instead recognising the Taipei government of the so-called Republic of China. Japan eventually switched, but only after President Richard Nixon’s surprise visit to Beijing in 1972.

Though there were occasional tiffs, especially in respect to what the Japanese referred to as boeki masatsu (trade friction), Japan was able to prosper quite fantastically under the American “nuclear umbrella”.

The distinguished former senator Mike Mansfield, a long-term American ambassador to Tokyo (1977-1988), famously announced and reiterated that the US-Japan relationship was “the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none”. This was a time when the two heads of government, Mr Ronald Reagan and Mr Yasuhiro Nakasone, became the first to call each other by their first (in fact, nick) names in what was called the “Ron-Yasu relationship”.

The 1980s, however, also corresponded to a decade during which the Japanese economy kept growing as if on anabolic steroids, in contrast with what appeared a sclerotic US economy. Many Japanese believed it was only a matter of reasonably short time before the Japanese economy would take over the US.

There emerged a syndrome among Japanese government, business and thought leaders called kenbei (contempt for America).

The most vivid illustration was a quite offensively arrogant book co-authored by then governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara and co-founder of Sony Akio Morita entitled The Japan That Can Say “No” (1989).

In 1993, a senior Japanese official, Mr Kazuo Ogura, at the time head of the Economics Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, penned a lengthy essay essentially arguing that the US (and the West generally) was heading for a dead-end and that the hour for Japan, which was in any case a superior civilisation, had come.

In fact, in the course of the ensuing years, two major developments occurred. The Japanese economy tanked and entered its lost decades, from which it still has not emerged, while China’s economy soared, overtaking Japan, then the US (in purchasing power parity, or PPP, terms).

China, not Japan, became the newly risen Asian global power. Having been based in Tokyo during the 1980s and visiting the country frequently in the 1990s, I can vouch for the fact that mainly due to atavistic perceptions, prejudice and contempt for China, the Japanese did not see this major Chinese transformation occurring. Tokyo was taken completely off guard and has remained in a state of strategic torpor.


In this century, on the one hand, Tokyo has had fraught relations with Beijing, essentially over territorial disputes in the East China Sea and over historical legacies, while it has desperately sought to return to Washington’s protective embrace.

To that end, Tokyo enthusiastically adhered to the Washington-driven Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which excluded China, while at the same time, at Washington’s bidding, it refused to become a founding member of the Chinese-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as a step to trying to contain China’s rise.

Japan was one of only two countries to refuse the invitation to join (the other being the US). Membership of AIIB is universal, including a large number of both EU and non-EU European countries, a small number of African and Latin American countries, and a plethora of Asian countries, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea. At a meeting of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce in Xi’an in September, there were representatives from pretty much throughout the planet, with, however, Japan (the odd Asian man out) conspicuous by its absence.

So what will Japan do now in the light of United States President- elect Donald Trump’s declared intention to pivot out of the Asia- Pacific, including abandoning the TPP?

Henceforth, Tokyo’s greatest 21st-century challenges include, first, reversing the 19th-century policy, which is not shed, but “re-enter Asia”, and second, establishing an equitable, constructive and cooperative relationship with Beijing. Japan’s 20th-century wars with China had Asian regional cataclysmic effects. Were war to break out between the two in the 21st century, it would have devastating global cataclysmic effects.

With the US no longer willing to provide protection for Japan, the China-Japan relationship has become, to paraphrase Mr Mansfield, the most important bilateral relationship, bar none.

While much attention is being paid now to the US-China relationship and the cross-strait relations between Taiwan and China, and the one-China policy, I consider the China-Japan relationship to be the one most challenging to manage – a point I have made on previous occasions in this column. With a new President Trump soon to be sworn in, it has become all the more urgent, indeed burning, to reiterate the point.

• The writer is emeritus professor of international political economy at IMD business school, with campuses in Lausanne and Singapore; and visiting professor at Hong Kong University.

Source: Strait Times “The most important bilateral relationship in the world? China-Japan”

Note: This is Strait Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.