History as a Mirror, the Future as a Window: Japan's China Debate
Special assessment rept.
ASIA-PACIFIC CENTER FOR SECURITY STUDIES HONOLULU HI
Pagination or Media Count:
A great deal of the positive public sentiment toward China that developed in Japan following the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship has eroded over the past fifteen years. Generational change has diluted the Japanese war guilt complex toward China, leading to a more contentious debate on bilateral relations. Chinas military modernization program, its intimidation of Taiwan and a series of incidents involving Chinese encroachment on Japanese territory have raised the specter of a Chinese military threat in certain quarters of Tokyo. While many Japanese see such behavior as a sufficient basis for cutting Official Development Assistance ODA, few see military conflict as inevitable. China s accession to the World Trade Organization WTO in 2001 stimulated a national debate on whether China s emerging industries constitute an economic threat to Japan. After a brief, unsuccessful effort at punitive trade restrictions against certain products, discussion has tended to focus on Japan s own need for completing structural reforms rather than the threat coming from Chinese economic development. Recent indications from both Japan and China show an increased willingness to take prompt diplomatic action to resolve bilateral conflicts as they arise. Many obstacles to a smoother relationship do, however, remain. Japan s leaders now find themselves caught between the need for increased economic integration with China and their desire to strengthen the alliance with the United States to offset Chinas growing political and military power.
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