Saturday, May 10, 2008

Do You Know What’s the Most Amazing Line in the Japan-China Joint Statement?

The Joint Statement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China on Comprehensive Promotion of a "Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests says:

The Chinese side expressed its positive evaluation of Japan's consistent pursuit of the path of a peaceful country and Japan's contribution to the peace and stability of the world through peaceful means over more than sixty years since World War II.

Do you realize that this sixty-some-year period covers among other things 1950-53 and 1959-75? I’m not kidding; bureaucrats worry endlessly about these things. So you can bet Hu Jintao knew this when he signed on to the document. He must have said something like: Nobody remembers anything about logistics; if it makes them happy…


Janne Morén said...

I guess - I am not a bureaucrat, in any country, entertaining as it seems - that one interpretation would be praise for Japan's role in the Korean war by way of acknowledgement that the "south" was in the right, and thus indirectly refuting his own country's involvement as immoral (as in against peace and stability).

Or, one could consider that "nobody remembers anything about logistics", and see the 60+ year statement meant as a positive contrast between the militaristic Japan up until the end of the second world war on one hand and the afterwards not perfect but nevertheless inarguably a positive force for peace and stability in contrast on the other. A statement meant, in other words, to bury a few hatchets and to remind people that many of the historical conflicts are just that by now - historical.

Jun Okumura said...

This recognition on the part of China is something that the Japanese authorities have been demanding for decades, so you can be sure that it has great symbolic meaning. My guess is that the history of the pre-normalization years and those two wars in particular was the main reason holding back the Chinese authorities till now, so I think it’s pretty remarkable that no one seems to be taking note of the conceptual leap implied in the 60-odd years that the two leaders referred to. The bureaucracy does not decide something of this importance, but it is responsible for reminding political leaders of such matters in drafting the documents. That’s why wrote it the way I did.

So, with regard to your second point: of course. But this is a blog, not a newspaper editorial page.

Lyons Wakeman said...

To me, this was the more extraordinary statement:
"They announced that they would align Japan-China relations with the trends of international community and together forge a bright future for the Asia-Pacific region and the world" [sic].

Align with the trends of the international community? Who slipped that in? BOTH are behind on that one. As is illustrated by the Comfort Women resolution, the campaigns for Darfur, and all those corporate governance rules, to name a few.

As you pointed out, pretty words sometime disguise some big ideas.


Jun Okumura said...


I'll briefly address the comfort women issue, since that obviously refers to Japan. (Although someone like you might also wonder why China does not bring it up.)

As I've posted here before, I have no problems with private citizens and organizations pushing the full comform women agenda. However, I have nothing but disdain for the Anglo and European parliaments and congresses that pass resolutions in total disregard of their colonial and imperialist histories. In that respect, our Diet is actually ahead of "international trends".

More generally, high-minded political rhetoric always leaves me cold, and translation always makes it look worse. Given the geopolitical circumstances, this particular example is about par for the course, and worthy of note only to the one-track mind.

Lyons Wakeman said...

Lyons is a male name.

I suggest you follow the international trends on issues regarding violence against women.

Maybe see UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Maybe see Sen Biden and Lugar's S2279.

And maybe be a little less smug and talk to some people involved in conflict resolution and post-conflict civil order.

Japan and China are way behind the curve on these issues.