Home / Opinion / Editorials

Japan should heed call of reason from China

China Daily | Updated: 2016-09-28 07:20

Japan should heed call of reason from China

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, January 28, 2016.[Photo/Agencies]

The significance of smooth Sino-Japanese relations cannot be overstated, for they not only serve the interests of the world's second- and third-largest economies, but also strengthen peace and stability in the region and beyond. Yet this vital relationship has reached a new low, to the dismay of people in both countries.

According to a joint survey conducted before the 12th Beijing-Tokyo Forum that began in Tokyo on Tuesday, over 78 percent of the Chinese respondents said the two countries have a "poor" relationship, an opinion shared by 71.9 percent of Japanese.

Many factors, including historical issues and the two sides' competing maritime claims in the East China Sea, have forced the relationship into this gloom.

Japan's aggressive stance against China on the South China Sea issue, even though it has no claims in those waters, has further damaged bilateral ties. Worse, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said recently that Japan would intensify its engagement with the United States in the South China Sea with "joint training cruises", which risks infringing upon China's maritime sovereignty.

Ironically, however, Japan has persistently portrayed China as the troublemaker. In its defense white paper issued in July, it hyped up the "China threat" theory by accusing Beijing of "high-handed" activities to alter "the status quo by force".

What Japan has done runs counter to the principles enshrined in the four political documents signed between the two countries in the 1970s, which are the foundation of China-Japan relations.

China has sought to improve bilateral ties in the spirit of "using history as a mirror and looking to the future" and strived to build an Asian community of shared destiny. But the lack of political trust between the leaders of the two countries makes turning a new chapter in bilateral ties an uphill task.

This is worrying, because "not marching forward means sliding backward" for the fragile relationship, as President Xi Jinping put it. And Japan is taking steps that are not conducive to rebuilding relations on whatever political trust is left between the two sides.

As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing ahead with his efforts to revise the country's pacifist Constitution, especially the war-renouncing Article 9, he has raised eyebrows in countries that fell victim to Japanese aggression before and during World War II.

Despite its effort, China alone cannot improve relations with Japan. We do not expect Japan to always meet China halfway to maintain stable ties. But it should at least learn to watch its words and actions on sensitive issues to prevent bilateral disputes from spiraling out of control.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349