Plunge Pontificates

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Must Read Site -- Reconciliation between China and Japan: A Search for Solutions

While Coming Anarchy was poking fun, they turned me on to a great new site. One about relations between China and Japan. I wish they would add Korea to this.

An example is this excellent post about the Yasukuni visits.

"A global public relations disaster for Japan"

In his Financial Times piece "A bargain that could end Japan-China bickering" Gerald Curtis sounds the tocsin for both China and Japan in their continuing slide towards serious conflict.

Moving away from confrontation requires China and Japan to forge a grand bargain. The problem is that the Japanese have chosen the wrong issue on which to take a stand. What country is going to defend Japan's leaders' insistence on making pilgrimages to a shrine dedicated to glorifying Japan's militarist past? This is becoming more than a China or Korea problem for Japan. It is on its way to becoming a global public relations disaster.

While Curtis argues that China also has a great deal to lose by playing a one-note orchestra, his key target is the Koizumi administration's choice of self-inflicted diplomatic weakness.

Japan’s relations with China are at a lower point than at any time since the two countries normalised relations in 1972 and they are getting worse. Leaders in Japan who argue otherwise are trying to fool the public, or they are fooling themselves.

Not only is this a problem of global significance for Japan, it is a threatening situation for the rest of the world, and demands more than the sighs of resignations audible in the chanceries of almost every advanced country. Rather than throwing up their hands, US and other countries need to impress on
Japanese leaders the importance of seeking accommodation. If the will to strike a grand bargain is there, the modalities will not be difficult to identify. They would include joint scholarly committees to review textbooks, encouragement of so-called second-track dialogues on contentious territorial issues, more extensive cultural exchange programmes, high-level meetings that emphasise positive measures to improve relations and the like. If the political will does not exist, all countries in the region will pay a high price for Chinese and Japanese intransigence, none more so than China and Japan themselves.

The wider politics of Japan's impending "global public relations disaster" were spelled out by former Bush NSC senior director Michael Green in an interview in the Taipei Times in the context of President Chen Shui-ban's decision to "cease" the National Unification Council. Green's key argument concerned Taiwan's strategy vis-a- China:

The more Taipei emphasizes democracy, its common values with the US and Japan and its status as a "stakeholder" in international society in terms of good work -- then the stronger Taiwan's separate identity and strategic position become.
All I can say is, "WOW!" This is a site I will definitely be watching!