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Cover Stories Series 2013> Monitoring East China Sea Airspace> Archive
UPDATED: October 20, 2012 NO. 43 OCTOBER 25, 2012
Desperate Measures
Japan's international lobbying and military intimidation cut no ice
By Yu Lintao

European media didn't show much enthusiasm for Gemba's visit. Some French media reported the trip as economy-focused. Most European media consider Japan's move to "nationalize" the Diaoyu Islands to be a sign of the rise of rightists and extreme nationalism in Japan. They believe that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda enflamed nationalism to bolster domestic policy. French newspaper Le Monde said the weak Noda administration failed to counterattack the right-wing opposition; instead, he capitalized on the sentiment.

A German newspaper even called on Japan to reflect on its wartime past like Germany to gain forgiveness from its neighbors. A recent article from Suddeutsche Zeitung said no Japanese leader has shown a sincere apology like what former German Chancellor Willy Brandt had done. Brandt knelt down at the monument to Warsaw Ghetto victims in 1970 to express Germany's sincere apology for its crimes committed during World War II.

But Japan has not made adequate amends for its war crimes. On October 17, Shinzo Abe, newly elected President of the Liberal Democratic Party, Japan's main opposition party, paid tribute to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 leading World War II war criminals. The shrine is seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism by its neighbors, including China and South Korea. One day later, two Japanese ministers and a group of lawmakers followed suit and visited the shrine as well.

Abe was Japan's prime minister from 2006 to 2007, and there is a possibility he may take a second stint in the next general election due within the year.

Observers said Abe's visit offended not only Chinese people but also citizens of other Asian countries, who suffered from brutal Japanese aggression during World War II.

Japan's incorrect view of history that fails to take into account the facts is a major cause of rows between Japan and its neighbors, Zhou said.

Military tension

During a recent military review marking the 60th anniversary of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force on October 14, Noda demanded that sailors be prepared to face "new responsibilities" as the security situation shifts, though he did not specifically mention the dispute with China.

In addition, according to reports from Japanese news agency Kyodo, the United States and Japan decided that a Japan-U.S. joint drill simulating the "retake of a remote island from foreign forces" will be staged in November. The drill will involve more than 10,000 troops.

Despite the claims of Tokyo and Washington that the drill will not be directed at any specific island or country, it is widely interpreted that the war game targets China as the hypothetical enemy.

Zhou said the military moves of Japan are not good for the two countries' efforts to break the Diaoyu Islands deadlock through talks. Japan appears to be double-dealing with China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei remarked that purposely highlighting its military security agenda and intensifying an already tense situation are not conducive to promoting mutual trust in security, and run against the trend of peace, development and cooperation. China will pay close attention to related moves and reserve the right to further react, he said.

A fleet of Chinese Navy vessels navigated through international waters close to the Diaoyu Islands on the morning of October 16. Chinese naval vessels' activities around the Diaoyu Islands were legitimate, China's Ministry of National Defense said.

"Chinese Navy vessels' routine training and navigation in the waters in question are justified and legitimate," the ministry said. "It should be pointed out that Japan in recent days sent military aircraft to the waters around the Diaoyu Islands, severely infringing on China's sovereignty and interests."

Zhou said the move made by the Chinese Navy is a normal reaction of China in response to Japan's recent military actions.

If Japan makes provocative moves, China should respond resolutely, Liu said.

Burns' recent visits to Japan and China did not seem to have made a difference in easing tension between the two neighbors.

Burns is the fourth high-level U.S. official to shuttle between China and Japan since tensions over the Diaoyu Islands escalated earlier this year. U.S. National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta all visited China and Japan during their trips to the region.

Observers said the two-faced tactics of Washington won't play a constructive role in the settlement of the dispute. "Superficially, Washington takes no side over the Diaoyu Islands dispute, but it strengthens security cooperation with Tokyo under the table. Its intention is self-evident," Zhou said.

Zhou added Washington doesn't want a clash between China and Japan, but it does want the two to be at odds with each other. Japan will then cling further to the United States, and tension between the two East Asian neighbors will also benefit the U.S. military industry.

Since the two countries have agreed to hold a new round of bilateral vice-ministerial talks soon, Japan should halt its diplomatic and military rush immediately, said Zhou.

The Japanese must face the reality, admit their mistakes regarding the Diaoyu Islands and return to the right track of resolving the dispute through dialogue, said spokesman Hong.

Email us at: yulintao@bjreview.com

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