Tentative Steps in the Pipeline between China and Japan: Territorial Dispute, or not?
Kanako Itamae and Jay Doggett
Modern Tokyo Times
It is firmly believed that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping of China will meet next week. According to various sources this will take place during the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Therefore, the meeting will be in the shadows of this summit but despite this the sideline meeting is of major importance.
Abe is intent on focusing on the international arena from a position of strength, while at the same time being open to mending fences. Throughout Northeast Asia it is abundantly clear that favorable links between China and Japan will boost the entire region. This reality means that great importance is being put on the alleged meeting to take place between the two leaders of China and Japan.
Lee Jay Walker at Modern Tokyo Times says: “A statement from the government of Japan makes it clear that China and Japan both recognize that important differences exist between both nations. The government statement by Japan says “differing views over the recent tension” does exist. Obviously, this refers to the disputed Senkakus (China calls the islets Diaoyu) according to elites in Beijing. However, the Abe government doesn’t seek to acknowledge that a dispute exists. After all, according to Abe this area firmly belongs to the land of the rising sun.”
The wording is extremely vague in order to suit both political leaders. This is based on internal public consumption and on internal political factors related to geopolitics, nationalism, history and the need to appear to be resolute. Therefore, the wording of the statement by Japan does enable compromises to take place even if the scope is open to question at the moment.
The Foreign Ministry of China said that both parties had reached an agreement based on four important points. This notably applies to the need “to prevent the situation from aggravating through dialogue and consultation and establish crisis management mechanisms to avoid contingencies.”
It is too early to say what the outcome will be between the leaders of China and Japan but at least both political leaders appear to be set to meet. Of course, you always have the genuine concern that a spanner may be thrown in the works. Despite this, it is clear that both nations seek greater dialogue despite deep-rooted differences.
Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary, specified to a press conference that the government of Japan had not climbed-down. This refers notably to the Senkaku issue and to tensions over the Yasukuni Shrine.
Irrespective if China or Japan climbed-down, or not, the only important issue is that both nations start to build fences. After all, greater dialogue between these powerful neighbors will not only boost both nations and the entire region, but it will also help the international economy.
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