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Home > Opinions Last Updated: 15:04 03/09/2007
June 13, 2005

Urgent Appeal to Improve Japan-China Relations

Toshihiko KINOSHITA (Professor, Waseda University)

Many of the Japanese as well as the Chinese who care about Japan-China relations must be feeling agony and sorrow, probably asking where a wise man like Chou En-lai is now.

The recent anti-Japanese demonstrations, which were said to be "spontaneous", turned violent and led to the worst situation for Japan and China since the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two countries. It was a result of the vicious circle fueled by the anger and anxiety of the Japanese watching TV news and the Chinese using the Internet and mobile phones without communicating with each other directly.

By now the situation seems under control, as the Japanese government asked both the Japanese and Chinese people to cool down, while the Chinese government took tough measures on those who participated in the violent demonstrations. However, there still remains a big difference in stance between Japan and China on this issue, and the difference appears to be widening as the "history problems" like the Yasukuni issue, the territorial issue, the Taiwan issue, etc. are becoming more serious these days.

In these circumstances, Japanese companies and their personnel in China are under most severe pressure. Clearly they are innocent bystanders, because although they were told that they were welcome in China and have been trying their best to do business by following local rules, they became targets of violence and boycott movements. The Chinese government should protect their lives and properties, and tell the Chinese people how damaging those movements are to Japan as well as China itself.

Not only the Japanese in China but also the Chinese in Japan such as Chinese students studying over here are facing a very difficult situation. Those who came to Japan anticipating better Sino-Japanese relations are now heartbroken and mentally split between the two "parent" countries fighting with each other.

The leaders of the two countries seem to share the same goal, that is, to realize a prosperous future by learning from the past and also by exchanging personnel at all levels. If so, the leaders and the general public in both countries must protect and encourage, above all, young students who will become a bridge between the two countries in the future.

I would like to appeal to those who are concerned about Japan-China relations: We may sometimes have to bear unfortunate and unpleasant incidents in the long history of the two neighboring countries, but we must have a bright future ahead of us. Let us try to do whatever we can do to maintain our candle light, which will lead us to a better future for Japan and China.

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