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How Long Will the Sino-Japanese 'Chill' Last?
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Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has repeated his stance on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine at his New Year press conference, saying that he couldn't understand why foreign governments would intervene in a spiritual matter and try to turn it into a diplomatic problem.

During his term as Prime Minister since April 2001, Koizumi has visited the shrine which houses 14 class-A World War II criminals for five times. The visits have seriously hurt the emotions of the people of China, South Korea and many other Asian countries. His recent remarks seem to make the cold bilateral relations between China and Japan even colder. One can't help wondering how long such chill will last.

2005 marks the 60 anniversary of the world's Anti-Facist war and the victory of China's anti-Japanese war which ended in 1945. Japan should have seized the chance and reflected on its invasion history and tried to improve its relations with its neighbors. However, Japan has done the opposite and fundamentally damaged the political foundation of Sino-Japanese relations. For the whole year, there were many farces and on October 17th, Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine made Sino-Japanese relations worsen to its coldest point.

In sharp contrast with the Japanese side, Chinese leaders have put up forward a series of active proposals to improve Sino-Japanese relations. China and Japan have proposed a series of diplomatic and security dialogues. However, the dialogues have failed due to the tough positions Japan took. Meanwhile, Japan had been fast on the way of appealing America in order to contain China. It held a 2 plus 2 talk in bilateral defense and diplomatic relations in February 2005, issuing a joint statement which included interference in the Taiwan issue. In December, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso even declared that China "is becoming a threat".

Japan has paid a heavy political price for its wrong policy. As a result, Sino-Japanese summit meeting was suspended; there was no meetings between leaders of China and Japan in APEC summit meeting either; Summit meeting between China, Japan and South Korea was also postponed; Sino-Japanese dialogues encountered severe obstacles; And Japan's plan of becoming one of the permanent members of the United Nations also suffered a severe setback due to the opposition from various countries.

Why has Japan constantly challenged the Sino-Japanese relations? While China is experiencing a fast economic development period at present, Japan had completed its goal of catching up Europe and America in the 1980s. Then it shifted its emphasis to change its image of 'an economic giant, but a political dwarf.' It wants to become a political power too. On Sino-Japanese relations, it wants to challenge the consensus reached in 1972 on history, Taiwan issue and other territorial issues.

Both China and Japan are important countries in the Asia-Pacific region. A peaceful and friendly relationship between the two is not only in the interest of the two countries, but also conducive to the regional and even world peace and stability. Unfortunately, some Japanese leaders have refused to correct their mistakes so that Sino-Japanese relations have been chilly for a long time. Many people hope Sino-Japanese relations will be improved. But against their goodwill, Koizumi insists on his stance in his New Year's remark. It indicates that Koizumi would like to continue to keep the Sino-Japanese relations as chilly as before.

Jin Xide, the author of the article is a research fellow from the Institute of Japanese Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The article is published on People's Daily on Jan 9th.

(People's Daily January 10, 2006)

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