Should main­land China be Ja­pan’s friend or en­emy?

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

“Fren­emy” is a port­man­teau of “friend” and “en­emy” that can re­fer to ei­ther an en­emy pre­tend­ing to be a friend or some­one who re­ally is a friend but also a ri­val. The term is used to de­scribe per­sonal, geopo­lit­i­cal, and com­mer­cial re­la­tion­ships both among in­di­vid­u­als and groups or in­sti­tu­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to Satoshi Ogawa of The Yomi­uri Shim­bun, “It was cited at a sym­po­sium last month by the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies in Washington, D.C. to de­scribe the cur­rent re­la­tions be­tween the United States and the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China.”

Chi­ang Kai-shek used the term in Chi­nese in 1934 af­ter Ja­pan cre­ated Manchukuo three years be­fore. The Chi­nese term “friend or foe” ( ) was the ti­tle of his book re­view­ing re­la­tions be­tween the Re­pub­lic of China and Ja­pan. He wanted Ja­pan to be China’s friend rather an en­emy.

A peace­fully ris­ing China is a fren­emy of Ja­pan’s now through a long evo­lu­tion.

Ja­pan es­tab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions in 607 when Ono no Imoko (

) was sent to the Sui cap­i­tal of Changan as Ken­juishi ( ), or am­bas­sador to Sui China.

Ja­panese em­bassies con­tin­ued un­til 894 be­cause of re­ports of un­set­tled con­di­tions in Tang China. Though a Tang ex­pe­di­tionary force fought the bat­tle of Baek­gang (

) in Korea to de­feat the Ja­panese in 663, who fi­nally had to give up their colony of Mi­mana ( ) in the south­ern­most part of the Korean penin­sula, Ja­pan im­ported into Chi­nese cul­ture ad­vances in fields in­clud­ing gov­er­nance, sciences and tech­nol­ogy through the diplo­matic mis­sions to China for more than two cen­turies. China was Ja­pan’s revered friend dur­ing this pe­riod.

In Ja­pan’s Heian ( ) pe­riod, the dis­rupted Sino-Ja­panese re­la­tions were re­sumed dur­ing China’s Song ( ) Dy­nasty, af­ter Taira no Kiy­omori ( ) came to power in 1167, and Song China af­ter 1127 be­came Ja­pan’s top trad­ing part­ner.

The re­la­tion­ship re­mained un­changed un­til the Ka­makura (

) pe­riod, when Kublai Khan’s new Yuan Mon­go­lian-ruled China in­vaded Ja­pan in 1274 and 1281. The in­vad­ing Chi­nese ar­madas were de­stroyed off Hakata in Kyushu by typhoons, which the Ja­panese call kamikaze ( ), which means “di­vine wind.” China and Ja­pan were en­e­mies.

The two coun­tries be­came friends again dur­ing Ja­pan’s Muro­machi (

) era ( 1337-1573). Shogun Ashik­aga Yoshim­itsu ( ) ac­cepted Ming China’s in­vesti­ture as king of Ja­pan ( ) in 1402 to start of­fi­cial Sino-Ja­panese trade known as kango boeki ( ) or tally trade. In a diplo­matic sense, Ashik­aga Ja­pan was a trib­u­tary vas­sal state of China for over a half cen­tury.

In­va­sions of Korea

A change in Sino-Ja­panese re­la­tions took place af­ter Toy­otomi Hideyoshi ( ) rose to power in 1586. He or­dered two in­va­sions of Korea, through which he wanted to con­quer China. The in­va­sions lasted from 1592 to 1596 and 1597 to 1598 with a truce pe­riod in 1586-1587. Ming China joined the two wars in Korea to sup­port its vas­sal state, and both ended in a stale­mate.

The last in­va­sion ended af­ter Hideyoshi’s death, and all in­va­sion armies were with­drawn from Korea. Ja­pan and China were en­e­mies, again.

Toku­gawa Ieyasu ( ) suc­ceeded Hideyoshi in rul­ing Ja­pan. He cre­ated a cen­tral­ized feu­dal sys­tem un­der the Toku­gawa shogu­nate to bring peace to Ja­pan for 265 years from 1603 to 1868.

The shogu­nate adopted an ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem based on the neoCon­fu­cian­ism ( ) of Zhu Xi (

), and re­sumed of­fi­cial trade with China. Even af­ter the Ex­clu­sion (

) in force from 1639, ex­port trade was banned but im­port trade con­tin­ued from China and the Nether­lands at Na­gasaki, Kyushu. China was Ja­pan’s friend, again.

Things be­gan to change af­ter the Meiji Restora­tion ( ) of 1868. With the rapid West­ern­iza­tion, Meiji Ja­pan be­came a “rich coun­try with a strong army” ( ) — so much so that it pro­voked what is known as the First Sino-Ja­panese war (

) with Qing China at the end of which Tai­wan was ceded to Ja­pan un­der the Treaty of Shi­moseki of 1895. The two coun­tries were en­e­mies, for the third time.

Meiji Ja­pan har­bored a panAsian­ism to unite Asia against Western im­pe­ri­al­ism. Af­ter the Qing Chi­nese Em­pire was top­pled in the 1911 Chi­nese Revo­lu­tion, Ja­pan showed sym­pa­thy to the Repub­li­can China for a time, but re­mained the en­emy all the time.

Ja­pan plot­ted the Muk­den In­ci­dent of 1931 to cre­ate its pup­pet Manchukuo, and com­pelled Chi­ang Kai-shek to write his “Friend or Foe.” Then the Marco Polo Bridge In­ci­dent oc­curred in 1937 to kick off the Sec­ond Sino-Ja­panese War dur­ing which Wang Jing­wei (

) cre­ated his Re­pub­lic of China in the oc­cu­pied part of main­land China to be­come Ja­pan’s friend, while Chi­ang’s gov­ern­ment of the Re­pub­lic of China in Chungk­ing re­mained the foe.

Friends Again

Af­ter World World II, the de­feated Ja­pan be­came China’s friend, one more time. In the mean­time, China was split into Chi­ang’s Re­pub­lic of China and Mao Ze­dong’s Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China. Ja­pan signed a peace agree­ment in Taipei with Chi­ang’s Re­pub­lic of China in 1952 to re­main China’s friend. That re­la­tion­ship turned “fren­e­mic” when Tokyo nor­mal­ized re­la­tions with Bei­jing to make friends with the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic.

Ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist Prime Min­is­ter Ju­nichiro Koizumi pro­posed a new Ja­panese pan-Asian­ism to cre­ate an eco­nomic Great East Asian Copros­per­ity Sphere just as Gen. Hideki Tojo did by call­ing a Great East Asian Con­fer­ence in Tokyo in 1943, where Wang Jing­wei at­tended.

A pro­tege of Koizumi, Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe is fol­low­ing suit, turn­ing Ja­pan into a fren­emy of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic just as U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has made Bei­jing a fren­emy of Washington’s, while treat­ing the Re­pub­lic of China in Tai­wan like Gen­eral Tojo deal­ing with Wang Jing­wei’s Re­pub­lic of China in Nank­ing.

Abe wants Ja­pan to be a “nor­mal state” to lead the pan-Asian eco­nomic bloc. Ja­pan doesn’t want to give up the lead­er­ship in fa­vor of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic. But history tells us that Ja­pan, in the end, can­not win the com­pe­ti­tion against China. It be­hoves Abe to con­sider a de­marche that will stop the two coun­tries head­ing for a col­li­sion course for the good of all East Asian na­tions.

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