Improving Relations with Japan

Published on Author claud

For more than six months, China and Japan have experienced tense relations as the two countries argue over island territories. Some believe that this argument has both nations close to military confrontation. Recently, however, both sides are attempting to bridge the gap, resuming visits to both sides and relaxing these diplomatic pressures. Friendly visits had been suspended after last September’s announcement that Japan was nationalizing the Senkaku Islands. China, who refers to them as the Diaoyu Islands, also claims sovereignty over them.

The second-largest and third-largest economies in the world were then bushed to the brink of military attack. Trade has diminished, coming with the consumer boycott in China of Japanese products (specifically cars). Thus, these friendly visits by both sides presents a great opportunity for the countries to try to work out their issues. Plans for a summit between leaders in Japan, China, and South Korea have not been set in stone, but it is believed the countries will meet in May. Hopefully, after that meeting, the two nations (who also play a critical role in relations with North and South Korea) will be steps closer toward achieving an agreement with respect to the islands. How long do you all think this issue will remain “hot-button”?

6 Responses to Improving Relations with Japan

  1. Given China’s current world position, it makes no sense for them to get into a war. While there are clear nationalistic aspects to focusing national attention on external ‘threats’, there are no clear incentives for China to actually engage in belligerent behavior.

  2. The dynamic between the Chinese government and the people’s nationalist sentiment is interesting to say the least. The heightened tensions are a result of the government allowing an outlet for some of this nationalist sentiment. It seems to have faded a bit in comparison to the boycotts and riots in the late summer early fall of 2012, but I would not be surprised to see this issue resurface along with other squabbles (Spratly Islands, Sino-Indian border) China might have in the future.

  3. You can find extensive discussion of this issue on the NBR Japan Forum (see the archives). The only known residence / regular use of these islands is by a Japanese family in the late 1800s, so while they’re mentioned by Chinese gazeteeers, their claim may be weak. Plus Taiwan is the place that’s closest, so there’s a bit of legerdemain by Beijing on that front. Anyway, with political transitions in China, Japan and Korea, such issues can get amplified, and “irrational” behavior isn’t out of the question. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail…

  4. Although Japan and China have not always seen eye to eye throughout their history given their geographic proximity, I do not believe that this will remain a “hot-button” issue. As someone has already mentioned, there is too much to lose on both sides. The costs greatly outweigh the benefits of merely claiming sovereignty over islands that pose little economic gain. Also with North Korea threatening U.S. bases in Japan, I think there are much bigger things to worry about presently.

  5. The movement to hold a summit between leaders establishes that involved countries recognize that they have too much to lose in the rising tensions. I imagine that involved parties will eventually realize that a squabble over a few islands is not worth war. Perhaps that the item will be mulled over to such an extent that eventually one country will recede their claim over the island and let the other country have them.

  6. I don’t believe that this will result in military confrontation. China and Japan will both end up losing in more ways than one if they go to war with each other. It may also start a chain and set off an unstable nation such as North Korea.