Chapter 3: Sino-Japanese Relations After Koizumi and the Limits of ‘New Era’ Diplomacy
Caroline Rose 1. INTRODUCTION The period 2001 to 2006 was marked by growing tension in the political and diplomatic aspect of the China–Japan relationship, attributed largely to former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s regular visits to the Yasukuni Shrine and the Chinese government’s increasingly angry response. By mid2006, the relationship was said to have reached its lowest ebb since normalization. However, during Shinzo Abe’s albeit brief reign as Prime Minister from September 2006 to September 2007, both sides appeared ﬁrmly committed to repairing the ties and building a strategic reciprocal relationship. Considerable progress was made in the form of two summit meetings in October 2006 and April 2007, marking a thaw in the relationship at the elite level. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s pro-China stance promises to continue this trend. Thus, Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations appear to be entering a more stable phase, beneﬁting from a wave of highlevel activity at summits, a return to regular and more institutionalized consultations and dialogues, and side-line meetings at regional gatherings. This improvement has been accompanied by announcements that the relationship is entering a ‘new era’. ‘New era-ism’ is a recurring theme in the literature on Sino-Japanese relations. A number of ‘new eras’ have been proclaimed since the 1970s as the relationship has recovered from one or other crisis or low ebb (Rose, 2004). Such pronouncements, (made by leaders themselves and reprinted in oﬃcial media, or by academics and observers alike) perform the symbolic function of allowing the slate to be wiped clean,...
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