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Japan's white paper adds chill to China ties
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-05 06:08

Two white papers from Japan have added a chill to the current low in China-Japan relations.

A summary of the country's 2005 white paper on national defence, published by Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday, devotes more detail to China than previous such documents.

The white paper is saying Japan needs to respond to China's increased defence budget.

The abstract of the paper, which is to be officially announced in early August, said Japan should be alert to the continuous increase in China's military budget, indicative of a military modernization drive, to which Japan must adopt an active defensive military strategy.

The document also reminds the Japanese Government to be attentive to the movement of China's naval vessels.

These words such as "alert" and "attentive" are eye-catching in the defence white paper. Glaringly absent are references to communication between the two neighbours.

In June, Yoshinori Ohno, the Japanese minister of state for defence, asked China to make clear its military developments. Ohno's demand of China is impertinent given that Japan has not clarified its own military arrangements. Japan has been taking a unilateral approach in dealing with its disputes with China.

And its attitude towards China is an unease over its neighbour's progress. A chaotic China policy derives from such apprehension in Japan.

Japan's 2005 white paper on international trade plays a similar tune. It advises Japanese companies to shy away from China and move to the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Serving as "whistle blowers," the ministry believes that what it considers the many potential risks in China may lead foreign and Japanese firms to shift their operations from here.

The message from the Japanese Government is clear: It has resolved to drive a wedge between the two countries on trade.

Last year China surpassed the United States to become Japan's biggest trading partner for the first time since records began.

Japan's 2005 white paper on trade evidences the mentality of some Japanese government officials: To build ties with ASEAN countries as a bulwark against China's growing influence.

This report personifies Japan's apparent intent to heighten political tensions with China.

China has not been the sole beneficiary of bilateral trade to date.

Rather, Sino-Japanese trade has had a direct and considerable influence on Japan's economy, while China's booming economy has provided Japanese companies opportunities.

"In terms of future competition with Japanese companies, we need to watch the trend of Chinese companies' research and development as well as their mergers and acquisitions," the ministry added.

Mergers and acquisitions are common practice in the world of market economics. However, when China takes that path, it triggers apprehension and admonition.

Adverse relations between China and Japan will serve the good of neither.

The two white papers smack of all-out hostility on the part of Japan, which is counter-productive and a mindset that will build obstacles between the bilateral relations.

(China Daily 07/05/2005 page4)

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