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    Foreign Minister’s latest on Japan-China relations

    Japan is set to begin the process of exploratory drilling in the contested East China Sea natural gas fields. Sort of:

    The government officially resolved on 13 April immediately to begin proceedings to grant permits to private enterprises for exploratory drilling to open the natural gas fields in the East China Sea that have become an issue in Japan-China relations. The government’s assessment is that, since China has proceeded with its own opening of gas fields close to the China-Japan boundary line (midline), Japan is in danger of losing access to critical natural resources if it delays the process any further. Resistance is expected from China, and the government is carefully weighing whether drilling should actually be permitted to go ahead [presumably even if permits are formally issued].

    Minister of Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura is to travel to Beijing for a meeting with Chinese officials and plans to raise the issue there.

    He has also been quoted, for what it’s worth, on the textbook issue:

    If our Chinese counterparts agree, an effective way to go would be to establish a place for joint Japan-PRC historical research.

    Japan and the ROK already have such a joint program. It doesn’t seem to have had much effect on Japanese textbooks, political speeches, or pilgrimages to shrines, unless I’m missing something.

    Added perilously close to the end of lunch: Okay, just one more thing. Here’s CNN’s latest article on the contretemps, including this quotation from PRC Premier Wen Jiabao:

    In the latest flare-up between the two former rivals, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday that Japan must “face up to history squarely” and that the protests should give Tokyo reason to rethink its bid for a permanent council seat.

    “The strong responses from the Asian people should make the Japanese government have deep and profound reflections,” Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.

    “Only a country that respects history, takes responsibility for past history and wins over the trust of the people in Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibility in the international community,” he added.

    That’s fine, but I’m not entirely sure China wants to be raising doubts about who’s qualified for permanent membership on the UNSC, since the obvious flip-side question is, what does China do to justify its existing membership except sit there and, you know, be huge? You may not always like what the US, UK, France, and Russia do with their global influence, but you can’t deny that they’re involved in world affairs. China has a booming economy and sends a lot of people abroad, but you don’t see it playing a key role in incidents of major international dispute or cooperation. I’m not, obviously, suggesting that it would be a good idea to kick the PRC off the UN Security Council, but respect for history and respect from the neighbors are hardly the only criteria worth considering here.

    One Response to “Foreign Minister’s latest on Japan-China relations”

    1. Simon World says:

      Japan/China tensions

      Previous coverage of the anti-Japan riots: April 11th and April 12th. My own thoughts: There is a clear disconnect in understanding on both sides. Many Japanese cannot understand the depth of feeling by China. Most Chinese cannot understand why Japan continues to provoke. The way forward is better communication and understanding. The reality of the growing economic ties between the two countries is this understanding will come. As Chinese and Japanese businesses deal together, as Chinese work for Japanese bosses in factories in China, as Chinese provincial and local governments deal with Japanese business, as Chinese tourists travel to Japan and Chinese business venture into the Japanese market. When people start dealing with people, rather than abstract concepts, barriers tend to fall quickly. The Chinese riots also reflect a major domestic political change. The Chinese Communist Party has long ceased to be a party of Communism. It has instead…

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