Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Japan should see things clearly

By Ye Xiaowen (China Daily) Updated: 2012-09-25 08:09

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda admitted in a television interview on Sept 19 that he had underestimated what China's reaction to Japan's "nationalization" of the Diaoyu Islands would be.

His interview has reminded people that Japan's current actions are a case of the tail wagging the dog, as a Japanese proverb indicates, and it is the right-wing extremists, with their eccentric, narrow, egocentric, exclusive and unscrupulous outlook on the world, that hold sway over the government.

In the wake of the global economic recession, crises have exploded one after another around the world. And the battering taken by the developed economies has made the mentality of the people there so fragile and easily manipulated that extreme nationalism has turned into a kind of irrational, shortsighted mass hysteria. Politicians are pandering to this extremism and making irrational decisions to win votes.

Japan's comic drama starring the dog and its tail commenced when the right-wing extremists in Japan proposed "purchasing" China's Diaoyu Islands and the government responded by "nationalizing" them. Many years have passed since World War II, but some Japanese politicians have still not corrected their small-minded, politically naive and strategically shortsighted faults.

They need to see four issues clearly.

First, they need to see history clearly. After World War II, according to the Cairo Declaration of 1943 and the Potsdam Declaration of 1945, all China's territories that had been seized by Japan should have been returned to China. As such, the Diaoyu Islands and its affiliated islets were legally restored to China. Japan's stance, based on the United States granting it de facto control of the islands rather than returning them to China in the early 1970s, brazenly denies world history and the terms of its surrender.

Second, Japan does not see China clearly. China's adherence to its peaceful development path is not to persuade, please or cheat anyone in the world, nor is it because China fears any other country. China has proposed "shelving the dispute and carrying out joint development" while claiming its sovereign rights over the islands, which demonstrates its restraint and tolerance. But if a country mistakes China's restraint for weakness, it is making a serious misjudgment.

Third, the Japanese do not see themselves clearly. Since the 1990s, Japan has lost two decades, and the global financial crisis hit Japan's already stagnant economy hard. The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear leaks last year dealt more heavy blows to its economy. Is Japan willing to lose the third decade? If not, it should realize that China is of vital importance if Japan's economy is to recover.

Fourth, the Japanese do not see the United States clearly. The US is keen to muddy the waters and stir up trouble. Yet, do they really believe the US will come to their rescue when something happens?

Forty years ago, focusing on the overall situation, statesmen from China and Japan reached a valuable consensus on the Diaoyu Islands issue and started the normalization of Sino-Japan diplomatic relations. The past 40 years should have taught Japanese politicians the importance of the consensus. Yet, a handful of right-wing extremists are pushing Japan in the wrong direction and have already caused serious harm to Sino-Japan ties.

If Japan continues its folly, the crisis will be exacerbated until the situation spirals out of control. As prime minister of Japan, Noda should be rational and protect Japan's national interests and maintain regional stability and peace. He should avoid becoming involved in the right-wing's provocations and refrain from inciting public support for confrontation.

Even in Japanese wisdom, the dog should wag its tail, not the other way round.

The author is the first vice-president of the Beijing-based Central Institute of Socialism, and a member of China-Japan Friendship Committee for the 21st Century.

(China Daily 09/25/2012 page8)

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