The visit is also an important action the Japanese government has taken to put into practice a joint declaration reached between China and Japan to boost all-round development of bilateral strategic and mutually-beneficial ties.
In a state visit to Japan last month, President Hu Jintao held fruitful talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, during which the declaration was issued. To finalize the document, both sides reached many consensuses. To enhance mutual trust between the two countries' defense departments, Japanese defense minister would pay a visit to China within the year. Both sides would continue to hold high-level consultations on defense security. The commander of the PLA air forces would visit Japan in June, and the commander of the PLA naval forces and deputy general chief of staff of the PLA would visit Japan at a certain time in the latter half of the year. Both sides would continue to work hard to set up as soon as possible a maritime liaison mechanism between the two defense departments to forestall possible unpredictable maritime emergencies. Both sides would continue to hold discussions on the possibility of cooperation in the realm of UN peace-keeping actions and disaster relief.
Obviously, there exists an important precondition underlying the two countries' will to strengthen defense exchanges: both sides have been assured that a peaceful China and Japan will bring enormous opportunities and benefits to not only Asia but also the world as a whole, and both sides have been assured that long-term peaceful and friendly cooperation is the only option for the two countries to develop ties. Both sides' support of peaceful development of each other and their common efforts to make the East China Sea the one of peace, cooperation and friendship have also helped make possible their strengthened defense exchanges and cooperation.
As a result of eight-year-long consultations, the upcoming visit to China by a Japanese warship finally realizes the upgrading of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The boosting of all-round strategic and mutually-beneficial ties between China and Japan not only serves the interests of the two peoples, but also follows the world current of peace and development.
With global environment issues, such as climate change, becoming increasingly outstanding in the future, all kinds of natural calamities are expected to emerge more frequently. As two big neighbors, it becomes increasingly pressing and necessary for China and Japan to cooperate to cope with the environment issues and natural disasters. Meanwhile, as the two countries have hammered home the common consensus that a long-term peaceful and friendly cooperation is their only choice while dealing with each other, and that both countries pose no threat to each other, their troops will inevitably shift more energies from the traditional to non-traditional security matters.
It will inevitably become an irreversible trend for the two countries' military to strengthen cooperation in eliminating non-traditional threats and natural calamities.
The author is a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
(China Daily June 23, 2008)