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New 'blue book' on Japan outlines troubled ties with China

By Zhang Yunbi | China Daily | Updated: 2014-04-01 07:21

The Sino-Japanese relationship faces thorny challenges, but Tokyo is not keen on having a serious strategic dialogue with Beijing, a senior Chinese scholar on Japan studies said.

Li Wei, director of the Institute of Japan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in office for one and a half years, "has done much more than his predecessors combined in recent years" in terms of Japanese diplomatic and security issues.

According to Blue Book of Japan: Annual Report on Research of Japan, which was released on Monday, the Japanese Cabinet launched "multilateral containment" measures against China last year.

This year, to realize "the Japanese dream of becoming a greater power", Tokyo will further implement right-wing policies at "full speed" to achieve what Japan has defined as "overall normalization" - a policy campaign that aims to strip off all postwar restrictions on the defeated nation, according to the annual report, compiled primarily by Li's institute.

"In the first place, voters supported Abe with great expectations that he would overhaul the domestic economy. However, we have seen Abe engaging more resources and energy in diplomatic and security issues than he has on the economy," Li said.

Adding to diplomatic strains brought about by territorial issues, Abe and his followers have prompted rising concerns worldwide in recent months with their plans to whitewash Japan's wartime atrocities.

New 'blue book' on Japan outlines troubled ties with China

Abe himself infuriated China and South Korea and disappointed the United States by paying homage at the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals.

"In terms of the history issue, Abe has taken larger steps and made more comments. Unlike his predecessors, who only saw territorial issues flare, Abe has doubled tensions by making troubles on both territorial and historical fronts," Li said.

Continuing challenges on the Diaoyu Islands dispute and the history issues will haunt bilateral ties throughout this year, and the Abe Cabinet will not change its core policies when it is "pressing ahead the overhaul of security policies and flexing muscles against China", the blue book said.

But as for Abe, "it is unlikely for him to realize the goal of officially revising the provisions of the pacifist Constitution" in the near future, and the so-called normalization strategy will stir up more contradictions both domestically and worldwide and put more pressure on the Cabinet, the annual report predicted.

When talking about the recipe for repairing ties, Li shared her experience of talks with visiting officials from the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

The officials told her that Tokyo does not hope to see diplomatic issues escalate to security ones, and Tokyo wishes to embark on a strategic dialogue with Beijing, Li said.

"But they are actually not proactive in this regard, and have no follow-up plans," Li said.

Media reports said the Japanese prime minister may deliver a new statement elaborating governmental views on history next year. But critics have stated concerns after Abe and his fellows suggested they may rescind previous statements by former Japanese leaders in this regard.

"The year 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II and Japan's surrender. We will keep the possible Abe statement in check, wait and see," Li Wei said.

(China Daily 04/01/2014 page11)

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