1. Shen Dingli 4 years ago

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine at the end of 2013 has incited international criticism. Yasukuni has enshrined 2.5 million of Japanese war-dead, including the 14 A-class, and some 2000 B-class and C-class war criminals sentenced by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in the aftermath of the Pacific War. For a long time, the right-wing Japanese have argued that the sentencing of these war criminals was imposed by America and therefore unfair. They keep paying tribute to Yasukuni to deny Japan’s aggressiveness and atrocity imposed upon its neighbors during its imperialist time. This is a serious problem undermining Japan’s international credibility.
    Abe can certainly pay his tribute to the war-dead, but not to those who brutalized the neighboring countries, and especially not at Yasukuni which honors all war-dead including the criminals sentenced by the Tribunal. Abe’s reckless provocation has provoked outrages from those victims and victors of the Pacific War. Japan’s drifting toward dangerous water, rather than keeping its pacifist image hard built since the end of WWII, bodes ill for the new year.

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  2. Alexei Voskressenski 4 years ago

    The prospect of constraining the emerging conflicts exists only if China will find a new model of development because the extensive one has been exhausted on the mainland and in the trade patterns. However that will require access to a joint technology base with other partner-states which are all currently reluctant to provide to China because of the economic crisis and rising competition. In order to be sustainable, China decided to rely on strategies that are both intensive (new free trade zone around Shanghai, BRICS etc.) and extensive (economic belt of the Silk way, Arctic economic zone, cooperation with Central Asian states etc.).
    In order to ensure the controlled mobilization the leadership needs a certain degree of nationalism. China’s maritime rights could be resolved even through the use of force. It is unlikely that Japan cedes contested territory because it relates to Japan’s relationship not only with China, but also with Russia and Korea. However if Japan and Russia find a model of resolving territorial questions that model can be proposed to Korea and China to follow.

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  3. Dmitri Mitin 4 years ago

    I submit that the conflict we are witnessing is largely self-restraining. The turmoil metaphor is misleading since it inflates the probabilities of worst-case scenarios in which tit-for-tat hostile reactions by the involved parties spin out of control in a spectacular, August 1914 fashion. It is more plausible that the tensions will linger on and may even periodically flare up, but excess steam will be released through ritualistic posturing or gradually dissipate due to inaction and shifting priorities.

    In some ways, the ongoing cycle of muscle-flexing and tough-talk is reminiscent of North Korean belligerence. In all of these episodes, domestic considerations made confrontational posture politically appealing. As different from North Korean variety, China’s brinkmanship is calibrated with a strategic perspective in mind, rather than for short-term bargaining gain. It is more sustainable over the long run, but is likely to be carefully measured to encourage evolutionary adjustments in the regional distribution of power, consistent with China’s growing capabilities.

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  4. Theodoros Tsakiris 4 years ago

    The recent Chinese move to establish an Air Defence Zone should not be exaggerated. Japan and South Korea had already established their respective ADZs and China chose to react to these actions in a manner that increases tension in the short-term but does not constitute a major escalation over the long-term. Naval clashes are and will remain more dangerous. I don’t think that Japan is also a major regional spoiler.

    Japan is reacting to what it perceives as Chinese expansionism and is trying to bring the US into its bilateral disputes. The US role as an offshore balancer in N.E. Asia will remain in effect since it is perceived by both South Korea and Taiwan as the cornerstone of their national security. Japan can play a more independent role but it will not act aggressively so as to endanger US support should the need arise for a real showdown with China.

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  5. Frauke Austermann 4 years ago

    He did it again. On 26 December 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine and thereby honored not only regular Japanese soldiers who died for their country but also top war criminals of the Second World War. China’s reaction was easy to predict: outrage, officially by the Foreign Ministry, in the media, by regular Chinese citizens – and a subsequent cooling of relations with Japan.
    Now, should we be worried? Yes and no. Tensions are obviously increasing these days and we should be vigilant. However, Japan and China are already highly interdependent, most notably their economies. Although trade ties are dependent on friendly or at least normal diplomatic relations, Japan and China seem to be aware of their economic interdependence.
    So what can be done? Japan and China might be able to learn from Franco-German reconciliation after the Second World War. Maybe an East Asian Union modeled on the European Union seems Utopian under the current political climate in North-East Asia but it may be a viable path to constrain conflicts in this important region in the world.

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  6. Frauke Austermann 4 years ago

    Not getting any better, see http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014-01/24/content_17254928.htm

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5 Comments

  1. Ivana Srna 4 years ago

    @ Shen Dingli:
    I think that the current tensions have to bee seen from a wider perspective than just looking at Japan. Two years ago, the Obama administration announced a strategic shift in its foreign policy and to focus on East Asia. Given the heavy involvement of the U.S. in the Greater Middle East, a lot of observers did not take that seriously, though. That might have changed in the last weeks and months. Just to name a few important developments: the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. It decided to not intervene in Syria and reached an accord with Russia. It relaxed its relationship with Iran and reached a nuclear agreement with the Mullahs. Taken together, this will minimise U.S. military commitments and free them up for use in East Asia. The recent decision to send B-52 bombers into the Chinese self-declared new “air defence identification zone” (ADIZ) has to be seen in this context.

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  2. Xin Lu 4 years ago

    The China-Japan tension is a structural one, with China as the emerging power and Japan as the existing power in Asia. When the two reach a parity of power and one of them is unhappy with it, conflict will occur. China needs more space to accommodate its growing power, and its moves would inevitably stimulate Japan.

    However, Japan is unhappy as well and has been seeking normalization of its national status. It is hard to say whether Japan’s pursuit of normalization is an immediate reaction to China, but I think China’s rise does have a push on Japan.

    So both sides are unhappy with and are attempting to change the status quo. This is why China thinks Japan is returning to militarism and Japan thinks China is becoming increasingly assertive.

    China’s newly announced ADIZ and Abe’s visit to Yakusuni Shrine only revealed both sides’ discontent. They are not the cause of the conflict. As long as China’s rise remains uninterrupted, there is no immediate end to the conflict. We will for sure see more bickering in the future.

    In addition, three other factors that can significantly affect the China-Japan tension: how the U.S. reacts (some people also argue the structural conflict is between China and U.S.); whether Japan can find a way to treat its war history without stimulating its neighbors; and whether China and Japan can manage to rein in their domestic nationalism sensation.

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  3. Pingback: New Blogs, New Crises, NSA Reform, Ethics in Academia - IR Blog

  4. Janis 4 years ago

    In this topics regard – this is also very interesting: http://thediplomat.com/2014/01/japanese-military-drill-chinese-coast-guard-patrol-both-aim-at-disputed-islands/

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  5. Pingback: EUChinaBetween » Blog Archive » An East Asian Union to reconcile Japan and its Neighbours?

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