Difficulties, Solutions, and Hope


The 10th Beijing-Tokyo Forum convened in late September carries considerable significance, in light of the recent deterioration of Sino-Japanese relations to a new low.  The seemingly intractable problems of territorial disputes and mutual political distrust that have further alienated the two nations bring to mind the phrase Chinese people use when facing adversity: Difficulties, solutions, and hope. 



 The 10th Beijing-Tokyo Forum convenes on September 28, 2014.

Challenges to Sino-Japanese Ties

We have reached a nadir in the 40 years of ups and downs since normalization in 1972 of diplomatic relations between China and Japan. Forum participants discussed the grim status quo from different perspectives, making the observations that bilateral trade has steadily fallen, Japan’s investments in China have been curtailed, and numerous exchanges and cooperation arrangements suspended.

Among the forum’s panel discussions, that on political issues was particularly animated. Chinese overseas students in Japan claimed, “The deterioration of Sino-Japanese relations has had a severely detrimental effect on us. Applying for scholarships in Japanese universities has become much harder, and the scope of opportunities for Chinese students has considerably narrowed.” Japanese Minister for Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy Shigeru Ishiba and Member of the House of Representatives Ichiro Aisawa promised to conduct investigations in efforts to remedy this situation.

The two sides eventually reached the consensus that the difficulties recently encountered should not be allowed to affect student exchanges or communication between the two peoples. “Amity between people is the key to sound relations between states.” 



There is an old Chinese saying, “Wherever there are difficulties, solutions are bound to be found.” I believe that these two great nations and their people have sufficient wisdom to overcome their current predicament.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua reached agreement during their talks on December 20, 2013 to restore ties to the normal trajectory of a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests. It had been expected that these talks could normalize bilateral relations. But six days later, on December 26, 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in defiance of world opinion, visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which glorifies not just soldiers but also 14 Class-A WWII criminals. This act sent bilateral relations skidding back to freezing point.

Last August and September, however, witnessed two meetings between Chinese and Japanese foreign ministers. Vice Premier Wang Yang also recently met with a delegation of 200-plus people from the Japan-China Economic Association. The atmosphere during the talks was described as friendly, so creating a glimmer of hope. In such circumstances, we expect Abe to respect people’s wishes and make moves to improve Japan-China relations.

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