“The intensely cold period in Sino-Japanese relations has been surmounted, and the warm period has advanced,” he said. “Both of our countries must bear a great responsibility politically, economically, and even for the global environment, and there are infinite ways we can cooperate.”
I am certainly no China hawk, and think that the more cooperation with Beijing the better, but to go to Beijing and to talk of boundless cooperation and of the “world-historical role” of the Sino-Japanese relationship is irresponsible (and delusional). There are real clashes of interests between Japan and China — materially, over energy resources, and politically, over the political future of Asia. Japan must work to resolve these issues, of course, but it does no good to pretend that Chinese and Japanese interests neatly coincide. Cooperation with China may be necessary, but this is not a time to make a virtue of necessity.
How, I wonder, will this play back home, where the Japanese people have mixed feelings about their giant neighbor? According to the Cabinet Office’s latest foreign policy survey, 63.5% of respondents said that they felt little or no affinity with China, up slightly from the 61.6% who responded that way in 2006. For that matter, how will it play within the DPJ, which has its fair share of China skeptics and hawks?
Does Mr. Ozawa suspect that hugging China close will endear Mr. Ozawa and the DPJ to the electorate? Or will it have the opposite effect of making Mr. Fukuda look just right when he visits China later this month, falling somewhere between Mr. Koizumi’s deliberate and repeat provocations of Beijing, Mr. Abe’s lukewarm embrace, and Mr. Ozawa’s unabashed cozying up to Beijing?
I guess there’s another explanation for Mr. Ozawa’s behavior. Perhaps he’s not so much cozying up to Beijing as attempting to pay tribute to the legacy of Tanaka Kakuei, his political father, who restored Sino-Japanese relations thirty-five years ago (the ostensible occasion for this visit). Not that it makes it any more excusable.