Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

China-Japan relationship thaws, but elephants remain in the room

Shinzo Abe's visit this week will be the first formal one by a Japanese prime minister in seven years Shinzo Abe's visit this week will be the first formal one by a Japanese prime minister in seven years
Scott Davis | 27 October, 2018, 18:43

Then they will visit a company which is a leading manufacturer of factory automation, Gokhale said, adding Abe has taken personal interests in working out the programme for Modi's visit.

In his policy speech, Abe also said he wants to close unfinished World War II diplomatic legacies by also aiming to normalize ties with North Korea and resolving territorial disputes and sign peace treaty with Russian Federation.

Japanese officials reaffirmed Friday that it would not compromise or back down on issues including China's human rights record.

"Both sides need each other", said Yu Tiejun, a Japan expert at Peking University.

In short, the Trump administration's eschewing of the American-built liberal world order for a realpolitik, transactional approach to foreign policy has inadvertently provided the foundation for Japan and China to move historical grievances to the wayside and return to their post-normalization dynamic of "hot economics/cold politics" known as Seikei Bunri/ 政経分離 in Japanese.

"The hard issues are going to stay", said Akio Takahara, a professor at the University of Tokyo, adding that he expected relations to remain cordial at least until Xi visits Japan, which he is expected to do for the Group of 20 summit in Osaka next year. This was because the TPP was seen by Tokyo as the economic inculcation of the US economy into the region to match America's extensive network of alliances and security partnerships that can be found throughout North and Southeast Asia.

The relationship has rapidly warmed up as Trump has slapped massive tariffs on China while also targeting Japanese exports in his effort to cut U.S. trade deficits, despite touting his personal bonds with Abe and Xi.

Nishimura said Abe told Premier Li during their meeting that there would be "no genuine improvement" in bilateral ties unless there was "stability in the East China Sea".




Mr Abe said their two countries were playing "an indispensable role in the economic development of not just Asia but the world". Japan is at risk as it exports to China manufacturing equipment and electronic parts, which are used to make finished goods for the United States and other markets. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the China Development Bank will also launch a scheme to jointly finance infrastructure projects in third countries, Kyodo News reported. "I hope for even more progress".

Osuga did note that universal values and maritime security were important principles of Japan's engagement with China.

"I expect that there will be some specific outcome as a result of the discussion (on collaboration in infrastructure projects)", Gokhale said.

The historical rivals have been drawn closer together under pressure from the United States to slash trade deficits.

The pacts were reached on Abe's three-day visit to Beijing as the two neighbours looked to carve out new areas of cooperation and seek new ways to promote trust, which has been fragile at times since diplomatic relations resumed in 1972.

Relations between Asia's two biggest economies have improved in recent years after they sunk to new lows in 2012, when Tokyo "nationalized" disputed islands claimed by Taiwan and China.

"Relations with Russian Federation are in abnormal state".

"Abe is thinking of a long time frame, of building a framework where China and Japan can work together and live together as neighbors without conflict", Vogel said.

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