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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #295: May 18, 2005

China Sends a 'Fixer' to Mend Japan Ties

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

China Sends a 'Fixer' to Mend Japan Ties
(AFP) International Herald Tribune


A very delicate diplomatic maneuvering between Japan and China is going to take place in the next few days, in official and unofficial, as well as visible and invisible formats.

China's Deputy Prime Minister Wu Yi, the highest-ranking female official and known for her ability to mend difficult situations, has arrived in Japan. But the media in Japan has reported it in a very low key, if at all. She has not come to Japan with a diplomatic agenda, formally. Wu Li is in Japan to lead the ceremony held at Aichi World Expo celebrating the China Day there, a day - in fact two days in case of China - designated to celebrate each of the Countries participating in the Expo. The site of the Expo is near Nagoya, and it has not been made clear if Wu Li plans to leave the area during her whole week's stay in Japan.

It is an obvious assumption, considering the hostility displayed by the Chinese toward Japan, especially after the riots last month in Chinese cities against Japan's official diplomatic missions and Japanese shops and restaurants, Wu Li's visit carries an undisclosed agenda of mending the relationship between the two governments.

That said, in a sense diplomatic bargaining is already under way. As reported in the article, sending Deputy Prime Minister Wu to the Expo is interpreted by some Japanese as a snub. It was in response to the Prime Minister Koizumi's invitation for China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan, who, apparently without any formal reply, sent his deputy to the occasion.

Japan, recognizing that fueling the hostility would benefit neither Japan nor China in the long run, has not directly expressed its discontent for the China's violation of protocol. But Mr Koizumi did not miss the opportunity.

As reported elsewhere, on Monday 16th, Prime Minister Koizumi, in response to an opposition lawmaker's question, said he did not understand why he should refrain from making pilgrimages to the Yasukuni Shrine. He pointed out that every country has its own way of mourning the war dead. He also asserted that he made the visits in the belief that Japan would never again go to war.

Although some commentaries in media, both domestic and foreign, describes Mr Koizumi's statement as "picking a most inopportune moment," consideringMs Wu's visit among other things, there has been only a subtle and 'usual' response from the Chinese government, which might be an indication that they also began to see is its worth beginning to mend the relationship with Japan.

It might be, then, a part of diplomatic struggle - a game you might call it - they are going through, in order to search for the counterpart's real intentions and find an appropriate ground for open discussion. If so, it is an encouraging sign for it is a step forward in both governments seeking a better relationship between them, which is a vast majority of the Japanese people wish to see. There are, and will forever be, differences of values and views and opinions between the peoples of two countries, just as with your local neighbors or even among close family members. That is fact of life, and something we all need to overcome in pursuit of mutual prosperity.

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