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In Japan's best interest to serve as bridge of amiability

China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-08 07:50

Editor's note: Former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama delivered an address on Sino-Japanese relations at the 12th World Peace Forum held in Beijing on Saturday. Sunday is the 87th anniversary of the July 7 Incident, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, that marked the beginning of Japan's full-scale invasion in North China in 1937. The following are excerpts of his speech:

The current Sino-US relationship is not a new Cold War. Today's China is not Japan after the bubble economy burst, nor is it the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War. The competition between the United States and China will be long-term.

Japan should play the role of a bridge between China and the US to help ease and manage the confrontation between the two countries. That serves its own interest best.

However, Japan has not only failed to play that role, but the Japanese government has become the most effective aide to Washington in military and diplomacy. In December 2022, the Japanese Cabinet passed three security strategy documents, proposing a new policy to give Japan "counterattack capability", significantly increase military spending, emphasize the Japan-US alliance, and position China as "the biggest strategic challenge to date". In their pursuit of excessive defense power, Japanese politicians are inciting hostile policies toward China.

Also, following the lead of Washington, Tokyo has sent wrong messages to the "pro-independence" authorities of Taiwan. Both Japan and the US need to show with words and deeds that they do not support "Taiwan independence" if they really want to stabilize ties with Beijing. I have always been convinced that if a military conflict occurs between the US-Japan alliance and China, no matter what the outcome, all parties will suffer a catastrophic disaster, so Japan's national strategic goal must be to prevent the outbreak of war, rather than rushing toward it.

If China and Japan want to prevent trouble before it happens, they need to reassure each other on issues of mutual concern. Full communication and prevention of involution are indispensable.

The concept of community is particularly important for peace and development in Asia. Differences in values should not lead to hatred. We should recognize the differences in our values and systems, respect each other, understand each other, and help each other. The times require us not to give up our ideals, but to be down-to-earth and do our best.

It is encouraging to see the ninth China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting was held in Seoul in May, as the last meeting was held more than four years ago. It is always crucial to strengthen dialogue and communication between Japan and China and improve the feelings of the Japanese people toward China.


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