The Future of Japanese-Chinese Relations Under Japan’s New Government: An Expert Weighs In

On China Beat, Elizabeth M. Lynch interviews Gerald Curtis, Columbia University political science professor, about the likely impact the recent election in Japan will have on relations with China:

EL: My first question is: how do you envision the China-Japanese relationship changing with the change of government in Japan?

GC: Well, I think it’s going to get better. It’s already gotten better in the last few years, but it will get better. One reason being Hatoyama’s view on the so-called history issue, on Japan’s responsibility for its behavior during the War and the years leading up to the War, is very heartfelt and the Chinese will appreciate his view on the history issue. Unlike some of the LDP leaders who apologized but didn’t really mean it, Hatoyama believes Japan was behaving very badly and will say so. So I think that will be very good. Also, he wants to see a stronger relationship with China. He’s not going to go to the Yakasuni shrine which has been a source of difficulty. He wants to create an alternative site in which foreign leaders can go, as well as Japanese leaders, to pay respects to all those who died in the War regardless of nationality. He wants to encourage greater cooperation on issues like environmental, pollution control and so on, which the Chinese desperately need. And I think he understands well that improving relations with China doesn’t come at the expense of relations with the U.S. The U.S. wants to improve relations with China, so does Japan, but the U.S. and Japan together can do a lot in dealing with China and some of the problems it faces. So I think the relationship is likely to get better.

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