The apology by Japan’s Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, is a sign of the success of Beijing’s campaign of diplomatic intimidation against Tokyo.
Japan certainly has plenty to apologise for in relation to World War II. But it has apologised at least 18 times. It has apologised over and over again at prime ministerial level, including previously to the Chinese leadership.
The events being apologised for are 60 years in the past. Many other governments, including the Chinese, have committed atrocities in the meantime without the necessity of apologising to anyone.
These repeated and seemingly endless demands for yet further Japanese apologies are no more than a sick and cynical attempt to blackmail Japan, emotionally and politically.
Yesterday’s apology is a significant gesture by Koizumi and shows Tokyo’s desire to work hard to move past its recent spat with China.
But, as everyone in Asia knows, it is really a sideshow.
What the region has really witnessed these past weeks is a naked exercise in power politics by China. Unfortunately, it is an exercise which has had some success and therefore could well be repeated in the future.