Chapter 2: Japan’s Policy Towards China: Domestic Structural Change, Globalisation, History and Nationalism
2. Japan’s policy towards China: domestic structural change, globalization, history and nationalism Christopher W. Hughes 1. INTRODUCTION: HOW DEEP DO TENSIONS GO IN SINO-JAPANESE RELATIONS? Japan–China political relations were left in a parlous condition following the premiership of Koizumi Junichiro (2001–2006). In fact, political ties probably sank to their worst condition since the normalization of diplomatic ties in 1972. The bilateral political relationship found itself particularly in need of repair over issues of history, including most notably the damage done to ties by Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine and relative indiﬀerence to the controversy over school textbooks. Abe Shinzo (2006–2007), Koizumi’s successor, to his credit, and against his natural political instincts, recognized the need to seek some form of political rapprochement with China. Abe’s visit to Beijing in October 2006 (described by Abe as an ‘ice-breaking’ trip), and the visit of Premier Wen Jiabao to Tokyo in April 2007 (described by Wen as ‘ice melting’) certainly made a start in moderating the role of history in shaping bilateral ties. Abe’s maintenance of his ambiguous stance on Yasukuni – refusing to comment on whether he would or would not visit the shrine as prime minister and pledging ‘to remove political obstacles’ to bilateral ties – appeared to have satisﬁed China’s leaders for the time being. This being said, relations experienced a slight wobble after Abe sent a donation to the shrine in early May, China describing this as a ‘regrettable’ action. Similarly, China’s leadership appears eager to relegate...
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