|China-Japan Relations (6/27/07)
Since the dawn of Japanese history long ago, Japan has had a relationship with China that has been connected in many ways. This connection can be seen in Japans culture, economy, politics, and language as well. However, since World War II the Japanese economy and power has changed. Japan has become the third strongest industrial power in the world. Japan is by far the most important non-superpower nation to China. Among the reasons for this are geographical proximity and historical and cultural ties. One recurring Chinese concern in Sino-Japanese relations has been the potential remilitarization of Japan. China's perception of Japan as a possible resurgent threat is due to Japan's past aggressions and its close relations with the United States since the end of World War II. For these reasons Chinese relations with Japan changed several times, from hostility and an absence of contact to cordiality and extremely close cooperation in many fields.
Japan has always had its eyes on the surrounding mainland because of the need to focus social concern to unify the country. This aggressing was focused on the entire mainland coastline. The invasion and occupation of parts of China prior to and including the 1930’s was a major component of the devastation that China underwent during the "century of shame and humiliation." At the time of the founding of the People's Republic, Japan was defeated and Japanese military power dismantled, but China continued to view Japan as a potential threat because of the United States presence there. The Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance included the provision that each side would protect the other from an attack by "Japan or any state allied with it," and China undoubtedly viewed with alarm Japan's role as the principal United States base during the Korean War. At the same time, however, China in the 1950s began a policy of attempting to influence Japan through trade, "people's diplomacy," contacts with Japanese opposition political parties, and through applying pressure on Tokyo to sever ties with Taipei. Relations deteriorated in the late 1950s when Chinese pressure tactics escalated. After the Sino-Soviet break, economic necessity caused China to reconsider and revitalize trade ties with Japan.
Sino-Japanese ties declined again during the Cultural Revolution, and the decline was further exacerbated by Japan's growing strength and independence from the United States in the late 1960s. China was especially concerned that Japan might remilitarize to compensate for the reduced United States military presence in Asia brought about under President Nixon. After the beginning of Sino-American rapprochement in 1971, however, China's policy toward Japan immediately became more flexible. By 1972 Japan and China had established diplomatic relations and agreed to conclude a separate peace treaty. The negotiations for the peace treaty were protracted and, by the time it was concluded in 1978, China's preoccupation with the Soviet threat led to the inclusion of an "antihegemony" statement. In fewer than three decades, China had signed an explicitly anti-Japanese treaty with the Soviet Union and a treaty having an anti-Soviet component with Japan.
From the 1970s into the 1980s, economic relations were the centerpiece of relations between China and Japan. Japan has been China's top trading partner since the 1960s. Despite concern in the late 1980s over a trade imbalance, the volume of Sino-Japanese trade showed no sign of declining. Relations suffered a setback in 1979 and 1980, when China canceled or modified overly ambitious plans made in the late 1970s to import large quantities of Japanese technology, the best-known example involving the Baoshan iron and steel complex in Shanghai. Lower expectations on both sides seemed to have created a more realistic economic and technological partnership by the late 1980s.
Chinese relations with Japan during the 1980s were generally close and cordial. Tension erupted periodically, however, over trade and technology issues, Chinese concern over potential Japanese military resurgence, and controversy regarding Japan's relations with Taiwan, especially Beijing's concern that Tokyo was pursuing a "two Chinas" policy. China joined other Asian nations in criticizing Japanese history textbooks that deemphasized past Japanese aggression, claiming that the distortion was evidence of the rise of militarism in Japan. By the late 1980s, despite occasional outbreaks of tension, the two governments held regular consultations, high-level leaders frequently exchanged visits, Chinese and Japanese military leaders had begun contacts, and many Chinese and Japanese students and tourists traveled back and forth.
The 1990s led to an enormous growth in China’s economic welfare. Trade between Japan and China was one of the many reasons China was able to grow in the double-digit amount during this time. Japan was in the forefront among leading industrialized nations in restoring closer economic and political relations with China. Resumption of Japan's multibillion dollar investments to China and increased visits to China by Japanese officials, culminating in the October 1992 visit of Emperor Akihito, gave a clear indication that Japan considered closer ties with China in its economic and strategic interest.
In 1995, China received an official apology regarding World War II by Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, “During a certain period in the not-too-distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology.”
Today, Japan is beginning to invest in China less; a growing movement to cease Official Developmental Assistance (ODA) support is beginning to flourish with the Japanese community. There are three essential reasons why Japan is considering ceasing ODA support toward China:
“First, giving China economic assistance is tantamount to subsidizing the massive buildup of its military sector, which increasingly is becoming a threat to Japan’s security. Second, China gives assistance to many other developing countries, and there is no need to assist any country that can afford to assist others. Third, China does not appreciate Japan’s assistance.”
The counter argument for this attack on supporting China is that by aiding China, they are more likely to play by the rules of the international system. As well as atonement for the damage Japan has done in the pre-war era.