Abe leaves no room for talk
Updated: 2013-10-28 07:03
It is right to point out that whatever problems arise between China and Japan, they are not the whole of relations between the two, as they are close neighbors with profound common interests, as well as shared responsibilities, in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.
But, although they disagreed on the causes, participants at the Ninth Beijing-Tokyo Forum agreed on the effect - Sino-Japanese relations are in danger and need sensible crisis management.
A non-governmental platform dedicated to people-to-people communication between the two countries - co-sponsored by the Japanese think tank Genron NPO and China Daily - the forum found its latest session permeated with dismay over the coldness between Beijing and Tokyo.
The well-hyped dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, which has created media frenzies in both countries, and grown tenser as a result, may be an explosive flashpoint.
The war of rhetoric between the two countries' maritime authorities, and most recently the militaries, could take an abrupt turn into a physical one at any time.
Still, even a Chinese People's Liberation Army general known for hawkish utterances told the forum that the situation, while "tense" militarily, remains "controllable".
But such control entails a shared political will; a shared willingness to sort things out and find a solution acceptable to both parties. Which seems out of the question at present as Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, remains stubbornly resistant to acknowledging a territorial dispute exists over the Diaoyu Islands, and he accuses Beijing of refusing to talk, knowing full well that it will not do so until the dispute is acknowledged.
In a Saturday interview with The Wall Street Journal, Abe again repeated his old trick of thief crying thief, condemning China for attempting to change the status quo by force, rather than by rule of law.
Our relations with Japan had been fine for decades thanks to the political wisdom of leaders of both countries that managed to keep the territorial dispute in the background. Those days, however, are gone.
On Saturday, Abe was at it again, saying that countering China in Asia is one way for his country to "contribute" to making the world a better place.
We see no proper starting point for sensible consultation with Abe, who is clearly determined to press ahead with his brinkmanship.
(China Daily 10/28/2013 page8)