Analysts: Japan should follow up visit with action
China’s chilly relations with Japan won’t thaw until Tokyo ceases its provocations on territorial and historical issues, analysts said on Friday as a Japanese Cabinet minister visited China for the first time since Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December 2012.
Akihiro Ota, minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, and former head of junior coalition party New Komeito, met Vice-Premier Liu Yandong on Friday.
Liu said China is committed to developing Sino-Japanese ties by drawing lessons from the past and facing the future.
“Both countries should properly handle sensitive issues, advance dialogue in multiple areas, improve trust and nurture people’s feelings toward each other,” Liu said.
Ota said his government will stick to the basis of the four political documents signed by the two countries and carry forward the legacy of the “Tomiichi talks” on Japan’s wartime aggression.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday that China has been consistent in developing SinoJapanese relations, but “Japan needs to take practical steps to remove obstacles that have blocked bilateral ties. We welcome such efforts from whatever quarter”.
Huo Jiangang, a researcher on Japanese studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said normal exchanges are “meaningful” to both countries as there is demand and need for communication in sectors such as transportation and tourism.
“China never cut off communications with Japan,” Huo said. “However, China also found such communication futile as it is based on Japan’s hostile policies on the Diaoyu Islands and issues regarding history.”
Wang Xinsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at Peking University, said, “Tokyo dispatching a Cabinet member to China shows its intentions to improve relations, but an atmosphere of sincerity for a government-to-government dialogue has yet to be established.”
Ota arrived in Beijing on Thursday and visited the Beijing International Tourism Expo.
Ota also called for the resumption of a tourism ministers’ meeting among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, which was suspended in 2012 when Sino-Japanese relations plunged due to Japan’s illegal nationalization of China’s Diaoyu Islands.
Japanese officials said Ota also met on Friday with officials including Shao Qiwei, head of the National Tourism Administration, and former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan.
Japan’s Jiji Press said on Friday that Sino-Japanese ties have improved in recent months, as both countries have conducted a series of exchanges.
But Hua, the ministry spokeswoman, played down the Jiji Press report, saying, “Such a report, not based on fact, serves Tokyo’s political purposes and falls short of credibility.”
She also termed Abe’s pursuit of collective self-defense “a threat to regional stability”.