Sunday, October 8, 2006

The bilateral relations of China and Japan

We can learn in the French newspaper Le Monde that Shinzo Abe, the Prime minister of Japan, is trying to mend the relation between his country and China in a "historical meeting" that took place today in Beijing, China's national capital city. It appears that Abe used the words of his socialist predecessor Tomiichi Murayama who gave his apologies and expressed his "profound regrets" in 1995 (during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Second World War) to the Asian countries invaded by Japan during the Second World War (1939-1945).

Shinzo Abe, the Prime minister of Japan.
Japan's Prime minister Shinzo Abe.
Photo Reuters/Claro Cortes Iv

Many people still view Shinzo Abe as a very dangerous nationalist, but he's apparently trying to distance himself from his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi who never managed to have good relations with China and South Korea. Are Abe's apologies sincere or just a lie? We do hope that this attempt to leave Koizumi's political heritage behind will lead us to a conclusion of the talks about the North Korean nuclear program.

Oh yes, you've also heard about the famous Yaksukuni Shrine where 14 Japanese convicted of war crimes are memorialized. I just took a part of an article that I found on the web site of Bloomberg.com. That should give you an idea about what the Chinese and the South Koreans are thinking about this shrine.

Yasukuni's museum says Japan's invasion of Asia 60 years ago was to liberate the region from Western colonial rule and that it was forced into war with the U.S. Koizumi went to the shrine annually during his five-year term.

Koizumi's precedent makes it almost impossible for Abe to yield to Chinese and South Korean requests to not visit the shrine, said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University in Tokyo. In meeting with Abe after snubbing Koizumi, China may have agreed to downplay the issue, Nakano said.



For the moment, it's still a little bit too early to describe the actual state of the bilateral relations between Asia's giants, but let's hope that China and Japan will soon develop real ties, but although Abe is the second Japanese Prime minister who apologized for the Japanese invasion of Asian countries during the Second World War, the relations can only flourish only if the Japanese government changes the way History is being taught in Japanese schools.


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