More an­tics from Abe

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

JA­PANESE PRIME MIN­IS­TER SHINZO ABE IS WAG­ING a re­lent­less pub­lic opin­ion of­fen­sive against China.

The just con­cluded ASEAN-Ja­pan Com­mem­o­ra­tive Sum­mit to com­mem­o­rate the 40th an­niver­sary of ASEAN-Ja­pan re­la­tions pro­vided him with the lat­est stage for his fear­mon­ger­ing.

Yet the joint state­ment is­sued on Satur­day shows his at­tempts to ca­jole ASEAN na­tions onto his China-bash­ing band­wagon were abortive, as it was a com­mit­ment to peace and sta­bil­ity in the Asi­aPa­cific, with Ja­pan promis­ing a “proac­tive con­tri­bu­tion to peace”.

We join the ASEAN lead­ers in look­ing for­ward to Ja­pan be­ing faith­ful to this pledge. Be­cause what we have wit­nessed from the Abe ad­min­is­tra­tion is any­thing but that.

Abe spared no ef­fort in try­ing to sell his dis­torted ver­sion of the story about the East China Sea to ASEAN lead­ers; China’s Air De­fense Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone, he in­sisted, is the source of all evil.

But Abe know­ingly con­cealed the truth that it is Ja­pan’s “na­tion­al­iza­tion” of China’s Diaoyu Is­lands that broke the sta­tus quo, which China care­fully pre­served and kept out of sight for decades. And he shows no sign of a guilty con­science when lay­ing the blame on Bei­jing for “uni­lat­er­ally chang­ing” this sta­tus quo.

Abe stands firm be­hind such a ground­less al­le­ga­tion be­cause oth­er­wise there is no pre­text to jus­tify his mil­i­tary am­bi­tions.

Re­spond­ing to a press in­quiry about whether Ja­pan should spend more on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment than on mil­i­tary ex­pan­sion, Abe, replied that Ja­pan must en­sure “free pas­sage and over­flight”. How­ever, con­trary to Abe’s claims, China’s ADIZ is not a no-fly zone, and in no way does it harm the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of in­ter­na­tional law. His call for China to re­scind the ADIZ, there­fore, is just wish­ful think­ing.

Nor will his ap­peal for leader-to-leader di­a­logue get a pos­i­tive re­sponse from Bei­jing, be­cause he wants Bei­jing to one-sid­edly con­cede to his terms.

He said he hopes to “re­turn to the start­ing point of the two coun­tries’ re­la­tion­ship of strate­gic mu­tual ben­e­fits and con­duct di­a­logue”.

But that point is in­ac­ces­si­ble at present, be­cause it means the two par­ties ac­knowl­edge the ex­is­tence of a dis­pute over the is­lands and share a will­ing­ness to shelve their dif­fer­ences in or­der to forge har­mo­nious ties. Abe’s cur­rent pol­icy is the op­po­site of that.

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