China / Politics

Relationship between China and Japan is not irreparable

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-22 07:33

Former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama told China Daily on Saturday that the tensions between China and Japan "should not spiral into military conflict" and Tokyo should not let hostility dominate its diplomacy with China.

The veteran politician made the remarks at a time when ties between the two countries have soured over historical and territorial issues.

"The ruling Japanese cabinet has not established a mechanism that can substantially secure the well-being of a cooperative relationship with China," he said.

With the sparks flying in their war of words, Hatoyama said Japan should honor the agreement made by the two countries' former leaders in 1972 and put aside their dispute over the Diaoyu Islands.

"Shelving the dispute is a more cooperative approach. The consensus does exist between the two countries," he said. "And only by doing so can we rein in the dispute and prevent it from spiraling into conflict."

Observers in Japan have seen Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's busy diplomatic schedule, which has taken him around the globe, as part of a strategy aimed at encircling China.

Yet Hatoyama, who was prime minister from September 2009 to June 2010, believes that if Abe aims to seek support to coerce China, "the plan won't work. It will only make Japan feel more isolated" in the international community.

When observers discuss the geopolitical issues between China and Japan, the role of the United States is hard to ignore, but Hatoyama said, "there will be a day when Japan places the same emphasis on its relationship with China as it does on the US".

The Abe administration believes that the US is closer to Japan than China, but in the future, Washington will put more priority on the relationship between the US and China, Hatoyama said.

"Based on this viewpoint, I believe that despite the importance of the Japan-US relationship, Japan should embark on improving its cooperative relationship with China, which will benefit peace and security in the region," he said.

Hatoyama said he has no idea if the territorial dispute will be completely resolved in the future, but he "has faith in the possibility that the relationship will be repaired", despite the widespread pessimism over the outlook for relations.

"At this point in time, friendship tells its own value," he said.

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