Japan must take practical actions to win Asian neighbors' trust


China Military Online
Li Jiayao
2023-03-14 17:40:35

By Le Shui


China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang held a press conference and answered questions from Chinese and foreign media about China's foreign policy and external relations on March 7, 2023. When speaking of China-Japan relations, Qin stressed that to foster a China-Japan relationship for the new era, it is important to honor commitments, learn lessons from history, preserve the international order and promote win-win cooperation. These four points are the foundation of China-Japan relations in the new era and are also China's expectations for Japan.


Objectively speaking, the current China-Japan relations are in a sensitive period since the end of World War II, and the security structure in Asia is being challenged by Japan's military preparations. Japanese militarism once brought great suffering to the Asian people, and its every move affects the nerves of Asian countries. Japan must also take practical actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbors.


In 1972, China and Japan jointly issued the China-Japanese Joint Communique and made a commitment to "settle all disputes by peaceful means and shall refrain from the use or threat of force". In 1978, China and Japan signed the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship and jointly affirmed that "all disputes shall be settled by peaceful means without resorting to the use or threat of force". Japan's peace promise is still in the ears. However, the behavior of the Japanese government today makes people wonder how much sincerity it has.


In December 2022, the Japanese government adopted three security policy documents namely National Security Strategy (NSS), National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and Medium-Term Defense Program (MTDP). Instead of the traditional "exclusively defense-oriented strategy", Japan proposed in a high-profile manner that it will vigorously develop "counterattack capabilities". Subsequently, the Japanese government decided to significantly increase the defense budget for the fiscal year 2023 by 26 percent to 6.8 trillion yen ($51 billion). Among them, the budget for purchasing long-range offensive missiles increased most significantly and reached 1.4 trillion yen. There are indications that Japan is accelerating its re-militarization process.


The war of aggression launched by the Japanese militarism in the first half of the 20th century brought grave disasters to the Chinese and Asian people and left a dark page in the history of world civilization. However, Japan did not thoroughly reflect on and repent of the crimes it committed in history. Today, Japanese right-wing forces are still active in the political arena. From tampering with history textbooks to paying homage to the Yasukuni Shrine, from denying the Nanjing Massacre to shirking civil liability for compensation, the Japanese government has been downplaying and evading historical crimes for a long time, so it has never been able to gain the full trust of its Asian neighbors.


Moreover, Japan's irresponsible stance on the discharge of nuclear wastewater into the sea has once again exposed its "beggar-thy-neighbor" philosophy. According to the previous decision of the Japanese government, millions of tons of nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant will be discharged into the sea this year. For neighboring countries in Asia, the resulting nuclear pollution may seriously damage the surrounding marine environment and ecosystem and endanger the health of people in all countries. China, Russia, the ROK, the Philippines, Fiji and other Pacific Island countries have successively lodged protests in recent years, hoping that the Japanese government will fully consult with neighboring countries before launching nuclear wastewater discharge, and properly handle this matter in a responsible manner. However, the Japanese government insisted on going its own way and turned a deaf ear to the legitimate concerns of other countries. How can such "profit at the expense of others" and "beggar-thy-neighbor" practices of the Japanese government not disappoint and anger its Asian neighbors?


Japan created an economic miracle that attracted worldwide attention after the war, which is inseparable from the path of peaceful development it chose at that time. Historical experience and lessons have repeatedly proved that the prosperity and development of a country cannot be separated from a peaceful and stable surrounding environment. Japan has been deeply poisoned by militarism, and it should have a deeper understanding of this. The world today is undergoing accelerating changes unseen in a century, and instability and uncertainty have increased significantly. At this new historical juncture, we hope that Japan can abide by its past peace commitments, build friendship and partnership with neighboring countries and never repeat the mistakes of the past.


Editor's Note: This article is originally published on China.com.cn, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.

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