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Expanding Direct Communication in the Sino-Japanese Relationship

Ryo Asano

Associate Professor
Himeji Dokkyo University

 

In the post-cold war era, China's place in Japan's foreign policy should be reanalyzed in a new framework of the triangular relationship between China, Japan, and the United States. The Soviet threat has drastically decreased, but Japan is facing political and economic problems, and China is emerging as a strong economic power. Good relations among the three is a necessary condition for the stability of the Asia Pacific region in the foreseeable future.

For regional stability, three elements are necessary: balance of power, institutionalized political cooperation, and domestic support for regional stability in each country, particularly in China. Domestic support in China is indispensable for stability because without it, it is practically impossible to create an air of "common values and interest" between China and Japan. Without "common values and interest," Sino-Japanese political cooperation will be very limited, and the power balance between the two countries will easily become confrontational.

In China, the role of public opinion in foreign policy is growing. The Chinese are confident of their country's power, because of its rapid economic growth, and are becoming nationalistic. Their misinterpretation of Japanese affairs in a nationalistic manner is a major constraint for the pursuit of a stable Sino-Japanese relationship. The same can said of the Japanese side, too.

Japan should strive to decrease Chinese misperceptions and misunderstandings of Japan by developing and sustaining direct communications with the Chinese through governmental and nongovernmental channels, so as to maintain a stable and constructive relationship with China.