Essay contest winners support better China-Japan ties

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 23, 2017
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Five Japanese people who won a recent essay contest on the topic of China-Japan friendship have been invited to China from Feb. 22-26 to share their insights on boosting bilateral ties from a non-governmental perspective.

Masayuki Inoue (L) receives a souvenir from the organizer of the essay contest on Feb. 22, 2017 in Beijing. [Photo by Chen Boyuan /]

Masayuki Inoue (L) receives a souvenir from the organizer of the essay contest on Feb. 22, 2017 in Beijing. [Photo by Chen Boyuan/] 

Masayuki Inoue, Toshihiko Shibuya, Yukiyo Mishuishi, Yohei Ito and Mika Kajihara excelled in the China-initiated essay contest held last year on China-Japan relations and how Japan would benefit from the China-led Belt and Road Initiative at a time when the bilateral ties are suffering drastic fluctuations due to political factors.

The contest, jointly organized by the Chinese Association for International Understanding (CAFIU) and the Japan-China Friendship Association in Japan, was aimed at Japanese nationals aged between 16 and 46. The organizers hoped the contest would cause more people in Japan to pay attention to the relationship between the two neighbors.

All of the five winners speak Chinese though with varied fluency. Four of them have studied in China, one has a Chinese mother and one is married to a Chinese husband.

Inoue, born in 1992, spent his undergraduate years in learning Chinese at the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) and now works at the BLCU's Tokyo branch. He said that his Chinese friends and teachers gave him the "dreams and strength" commonly expected of a youth.

"Before I came to China, I didn't have any dreams or strength. But while I was at BLCU, I was influenced by my Chinese friends, teachers, among others. And now I have both," said Inoue, adding that he is now dedicated to Japan-China friendship and ready to make contributions to non-governmental, people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Yukiyo, a sophomore majoring in international legal system, has a Japanese father and a Chinese mother. Her parentage makes her naturally refrain from taking sides in China-Japan diplomatic disputes, instead leading her to consider how the two countries could generate greater harmony.

The contest received 34 submissions, a "not large" number as admitted by Ni Jian, the CAFIU Secretary-General. He said that the essay contest was the first of its kind and that future ones, which would feature larger variety, would be held.

"Despite temporary difficulties in diplomatic ties, the foundation for friendship is solid on the grass-roots level, as more young people in the two countries want to take up the mission to build better ties," Ni said. He noted that in the past friendship promoters were all retired people. "If elderly people are the only ones who care, then the future is grim."

The five winners all acknowledged that China's Belt and Road Initiative would do much to benefit the world and admitted that not many Japanese people know about it.

CAFIU's Ni clarified that "Belt and Road" is an inclusive partnership and any country who is interested and ready to show commitment is welcome to be part of it, even though Japan is not "on the Belt and Road" geographically.

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