Japan values its relations with China
Updated: 2013-01-23 07:37
Editor's note: China-Japan relations have been frayed since last September. China invited several Japanese politicians to visit Beijing in January. Before Japan's New Komeito Party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi's Beijing trip, China Daily Tokyo Bureau Chief Cai Hong interviewed Hiroshi Ishikawa, director of First China and Mongolia Division of Japan's Foreign Ministry.
Prime Minister Abe faces a state of China-Japan relations that is similar to when he first became premier in 2006 - a chilly bilateral relationship. Last time Mr Abe visited China as part of his first overseas trip, he successfully melted the ice and mended ties. This time he chose the United States at the beginning and then the ASEAN's three nations. What's your comment on the difference?
Diplomacy commands bilateral relations, which requires flexibility. After the Abe administration was sworn in, the first overseas destination Abe went to was not China but three member nations of the ASEAN. Japanese prime ministers of previous administrations visited different countries for their first overseas trip. There is no rule (for the arrangements). This time Abe chose the ASEAN nations, which Japan traditionally treasures in its foreign policy. I hope that China will not misunderstand Prime Minister Abe's first choice, which does not mean that we don't value our relations with China. We chose the Southeast Asian nations because this year will witness the 40th anniversary of our friendship and cooperation with the ASEAN. Its member nations are aimed to build their community in 2015. Under this circumstance, (Japan intends to) enhance its cooperation with the ASEAN on the fronts of economy, energy and security.
What do you think of the US factor in the China-Japan relations?
The United States can play a very big role in the Asia-Pacific region. It is Japan's ally as everyone knows. China is Japan's largest trade partner. Based on such a reality, Japan will adopt appropriate diplomacy as a matter of course. As for the US factor, Japan welcomes good China-US ties. I've seen that the two big powers have made efforts to build a brand-new relationship. We warmly welcome this. Also, I hope that China will welcome a good Japan-US relationship. The good, stable ties among the three countries in future will be of great significance to the Japan-China relations and the whole region.
The New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi announced he will visit Beijing this week. His party is part of the Japanese coalition government. What do you think Mr Yamaguchi's China visit means?
Mr Yamaguchi is leader of New Komeito, which is part of the ruling parties. So his China visit is very important. I hope that the Chinese side will take it seriously.
What China policy do you think Abe's government has?
The relationship with China is one of Japan's most important bilateral relations. Japan values its relations with China. We will, from a broad perspective, promote a mutually beneficial strategic relationship. During his (first) premiership Abe came up with the new concept on the "mutually beneficial strategic" relations (with China). After he took office for the second stint, he made it clear that he will bring the bilateral ties back to the mutually beneficial strategic relations and improve the Japan-China relations. I think this is the essence of the Abe administration's China policy.