Japan’s Foreign Policy toward Northeast Asia as Seen in Chinese Publications

In the past few years, China and Japan have been experiencing serial difficulties in their relations, beyond anything seen since normalization in 1972. Chinese writings on Japan’s foreign policy are, correspondingly, proliferating with emotional articles imbued with strong nationalism far outnumbering others based on cool-headed calculation of national interests. Articles on bilateral relations are overwhelming more general analysis of Japan’s policies in East Asia. From these sources we can grasp recent Chinese views of Japan’s relations with the major countries active in Northeast Asia, while also better understanding the difficult challenges ahead in the region and in Sino-Japanese relations.

The Sino-Japanese relationship

As the second and third largest economies, China and Japan and the Sino-Japanese relationship occupy a central position in Northeast Asia. Recently, China and Japan have found themselves at odds over almost everything. Chinese writings, which have been full of finger-pointing and name calling, have been focusing on two prominent issues: the Diaoyu Islands dispute and Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, on which coverage is well known; so here, I only consider some regional implications.

Nationalization of Diaoyu Islands: a challenge to the post-WWII order

Any analysis of Chinese views of the situation in Northeast Asia rightly starts with the response to the Japanese government’s decision to nationalize some of the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands, and China’s immediate reaction with a propaganda campaign to win sympathy and legitimize China’s countermeasures. Ji Guoping, a pseudonym of Renmin ribao’s International Department that often voices the official position, published a well-prepared, four-point article the very next day, claiming: 1) the Diaoyu Islands have belonged to China since ancient times; 2) Japan’s theft of them is illegal and invalid; 3) China has firmly struggled with Japan in an effort to safeguard its sovereignty; and 4) Japan’s coveting of the islands is doomed to fail.1 Xu Jianmei, a Xinhua News commenter, made a connection between Japan’s nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands dispute and its attitude toward the post-WWII arrangement, explaining the territorial dispute “has a direct connection to the question of whether Japan could reflect on its more than half-century long aggression and expansion, a direct connection to the issue of whether Japan has accepted its unconditional surrender as a result of WWII.” Xu sternly warned, the Japanese government “is taking a gamble on the Diaoyu Islands” and “pushing the Diaoyu Island issue to the brink of crisis, which could be triggered at any moment.”2

Huanqiu shibao, which has a reputation for nationalist fervor, went further. Its September 11, 2013 editorial asserted, although “at present, it is not the best chance for China to settle its territorial disputes, once and for all, with the countries concerned…China’s struggle with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands should be aimed at changing the Japan-controlled situation in the long run.” China must act with utmost urgency to: 1) insist on its de jure sovereignty over all the maritime territories in dispute; and 2) expand the disputes over the territories occupied by other countries, which also claim their own inherent sovereignty. By doing so, it “could effectively undermine other countries’ de facto control of the disputed territories. On occasion, we could even directly impose or completely impose our control. The Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) is an example of success…In response to Japan’s strengthened control of the Diaoyu Islands, we also should escalate our action” preparing to cope with a worst-case scenario, in which it and the United States jointly confront China.3

The Chinese government acted in line with the editorial. Jiang Lifeng asserted, “China has gained more and more initiative in the struggle over the Diaoyu Islands whereas Japan has become increasingly defensive” due to China’s adherence to principle and its decisive actions.4 Jiang insisted that “if the Japanese government permits or abets Japanese to land on the Diaoyu Islands, China would take more decisive measures until the Japanese law enforcement boats are forced out of the waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands….[China] is not afraid of using military force to settle the Diaoyu Islands dispute…In the future, any negotiations between China and Japan should be about how Japan returns the Diaoyu Islands to China in their entirety; under such conditions…both nations could discuss if they could jointly exploit the maritime resources in the Diaoyu area,” and such negotiations should take place in a transparent manner.5

Visits to the Yasukuni Shrine: a threat to peace and stability

Japanese leaders’ visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, most recently the visit of Abe Shinzo, have been a bone of contention, pushing Sino-Japanese relations into dangerous territory. China’s reaction was strong and swift, blaming Abe for “hypocrisy, unscrupulousness, and self-contradictions.”6 On January 1, 2014, Zhong Sheng, another pseudonym of Renmin ribao’s International Department, pointed out, “Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine was his necessary step to make Japan a militarily strong state and Asia’s hegemon. Abe’s unscrupulousness and desperate gambling are testimony to the pertinacity of Japanese militarism, and have become a real threat to peace in Asia.”7 A few days later, a second Zhong Sheng editorial criticized Abe for “crossing a red-line” and “trying to reverse the historical verdict on the Japanese aggression in WWII and giving a big build-up to war criminals.”8 A third editorial, published on January 7, went further, claiming that Abe’s visit attempted “to overturn the verdicts of the Tokyo Tribunal, to glorify the Japanese militarist aggression and its colonial history, to unscrupulously trample human conscience and grossly violate truth and justice, to negate the outcome of the victory in the World Anti-Fascist War, and to challenge the post-WWII world order.”9 On January 8, Zhong Sheng offered a fourth editorial, condemning Abe’s visit as an inevitable act of the shift to right-wing politics in Japan,” adding that, “the increasingly right-wing Japan has already posed a real threat to regional peace.”10 In a final editorial, Zhong Sheng claimed that “his faulty historical outlook and arrogant personality made Abe Shinzo a person beyond understanding, some ideas in his mind have become absurd and unreasonable” and his visit to the shrine “wantonly impacts security and stability in East Asia.”11 Portraying Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine as an act of defiance against the post-WWII world order and a threat to peace and stability in East Asia, the government propaganda campaign was not only to demonize Abe, who is trying to jump start Japan’s economy and make Japan a “normal” state, but also aimed at courting the United States and other victors in WWII to its side.

In addition to the official voice, individual Chinese scholars weighed in with commentaries. Jin Canrong summarized three motives behind Abe’s visit: first, the Sino-Japanese tensions could help Abe to secure the long-term Liberal Democratic Party’s rule in Japan; second, tensions could be conducive to Abe’s implementation of some difficult economic reform; third, Abe needs the tension to carry out his strategies, such as normalizing the Japanese state, turning Japan into a militarily strong power, and revising Japan’s peace constitution.12 Xu Yongzhi claimed the loss triggered by Abe’s visit to the shrine to Japan and Abe himself far outweighed their gains: Sino-Japanese relations became awkward, with territorial and historical disputes breaking out concurrently; Japan-Korean relations, which had shown signs of improvement, once again were frozen; and, more importantly, Abe’s visit irked the United States, which released two official statements to register its disappointment. Xu insisted that China should take tough counter-measures against Japan. Only by doing so, a new model of action-reaction could be formed and Sino-Japanese relations could find hope.13

A new protracted war

As China and Japan were embroiled in territorial and historical disputes, other issues, such as Japan’s lifting of its ban on arms exports and reinterpreting of its right to collective self-defense came to be identified by Chinese specialists as the most recent evidence that Japanese politics is turning to the right and Abe’s government is embracing remilitarization. In fact, they began to perceive the exchange of barbed words between China and Japan as a kind of propaganda war. When more than thirty envoys published articles in their official capacity in January 2014, jointly denouncing Abe’s visit to the shrine, Sun Chenghao said, “the Ambassadors’ articles lead to a serial propaganda battle between China and Japan, attract international news media to Abe’s visit, become a highlight of China’s diplomacy in dealing with Abe’s behavior, and demonstrate the increasing flexibility of China’s diplomacy and international propaganda.”14 At the same time, Japan “has begun to launch its public diplomacy with a special emphasis on mobilizing international news media, aiming at gaining the upper hand over China in the propaganda campaign.”15 Wu Huaizhong added that Japan’s concrete methods to mobilize international media include: speaking out at multilateral settings to shape public opinion; promoting public relations campaigns through diplomacy in order to create pro-Japan opinion; amplifying the propaganda effect through the mainstream of Western media; making good use of new media such as the Internet and animation in order to spread its message; and turning its overseas agencies into propaganda outposts.16

Generally speaking, the Chinese writings on Sino-Japanese relations have been negative, and talk of a possible Sino-Japanese military showdown abounds in China. Even though some cool-headed scholars and retired officials warn that such talk of a Sino-Japanese war “is short-sighted and runs against the historical trend,”17 their voices have been mainly drowned out by hawkish opinions. Chen Xiangyang, deputy director of the Institute of World Politics and Economics, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), announced, “Japan, is obsessed with right-wing politics, has become a significant external threat to China’s peaceful development…because Japan refuses to accept its defeat in WWII, refuses to yield its place as the second largest economy to China, and refuses to be overtaken by China in its influence in East Asia; thus China should prepare to fight a new protracted war with Japan.”18

The Japan-US Relationship

After Hillary Clinton announced in 2009 “the US is back,” pivoting to the Asia Pacific, some Chinese analysts believed, “the strategy reveals that the United States has treated China as a major competitor in its global strategy. The United States not only tried to contain China, it also made efforts to choke China.”19 Thus, what kind of role Japan would play in the new US strategy and what impact the new strategy might have on Japan’s pursuit of a “normal state” and on the Diaoyu Islands dispute are the two prominent issues of greatest concern to the Chinese.

Japan’s supporting role in the US rebalancing strategy

As the major part of the US-centered hub-and-spoke alliance system, the US-Japanese alliance took a new turn as the US pivoted towards the Asia-Pacific region. There is consensus that the United States has consistently encouraged Japan to play a larger role there. In Zhang Shirong’s analysis, the pivot is welcome for Japan, which has worried about China’s increased military power, and its government and mass media believe that the United States will unite Japan, South Korea, India, and Australia in anti-China encirclement to support the rebalancing strategy, To this end, Japan has made concessions on many issues.20

Wang Peng and Shao Dan, two military researchers, claimed that, Japan is the best place for the United States to gain a foothold in the Asia Pacific. It needs Japan to smoothly implement its new strategy, while the reality that Japan faces in a string of territorial disputes with China, Russia, and South Korea necessitates a stable US alliance as its strong backing. With this patron, Japan can constantly expand its military and harden its attitude toward the maritime territorial disputes.21 Wu Chunsi concluded that since the end of WWII, the United States has been a controller and agenda-setter, whereas Japan has been basically obedient to US strategic objectives. Although the nature of relations so far remains unchanged, Japan is increasingly active in shaping the relationship.22 Wu lists as reasons for US tolerance towards Japan’s turn to right-wing politics and remilitarization: 1) as it pivots, it realizes that it alone cannot maintain its leadership in the region, it must rely on allies to implement its strategy, thus it hastily took Japan’s side in the disputes involving Japan; 2) strategically, Japan is quite weak, and the United States believes it still can maintain tight control; 3) psychologically, it enjoys an advantage over Japan thanks to its total victory over Japan in WWII; 4) ideologically, it believes Japan, reformed by the occupation, shares Western values and thus would not cause concern; and 5) even if Japan embarks on the path of militarization, the United States would suffer less since geographically it is far away.23 Wu concluded, even though it has the capability to prevent Japan from turning to right-wing politics and embracing military expansionism, it is loosening its rein and control over Japan.

The Diaoyu Island dispute: a test for the alliance

The Diaoyu Islands dispute is a test of the alliance. Even though in the early stage of the dispute triggered by Japan’s nationalization drive, the US signaled that they fall under Article 5 of the Security Treaty, China still had hope that it would not lean far toward Japan. In September 2012, Tian Wenlin claimed “the US would make a mistake if it wanted to drive a wedge between China and Japan and try to play the ‘divide and rule’ trick, serve as an off-shore balancer, and take advantage of the dispute.”24 For Tian, Japan’s nationalization “is an attempt to challenge and sabotage the post-WWII international order,” impacting China, and also harming the United States in the future. “The reasons is simple, the US is the builder and beneficiary of the post-WWII system.” Tian also offered another reason that Japan and the United States might not be able to get along: as two maritime powers, their geopolitical similarity determines that their mutual repulsiveness outweighs their mutual attractiveness. If Japan becomes a mighty power (in the future), its ambitions would definitely grow, we could not rule out the scenario, in which the attack on Pearl Harbor would be repeated and the US homeland face a direct threat.”25

As opposed to conventional Chinese wisdom that “the United States is the mastermind of the Sino-Japanese dispute,” Pang Zhongpeng believes that “Japan is the leading actor in the Diaoyu Crisis,” and the United States is just “kidnapped” by Japan and “has no choice but to follow at Japan’s heels.”26 Japan intentionally escalated the dispute and made the situation in East Asia increasingly tense in an attempt to create an impression that poor Japan, bullied by China, could barely resist, and, thus, the United States needs to intervene and consent to an upgrade of its military equipment and expansion of its military activities overseas. Echoing Pang, Chen Xiangyang maintained, that Japan plays a supporting role in the US rebalancing strategy and seized the chance to fulfill its own strategic agenda, including: 1) strengthening the military alliance in order to “rely on the US and contain China”; 2) abusing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea by trying to turn the Okinotorishima Real into an island and strengthen its control over China’s Diaoyu Islands; 3) actively intervening in the South China Sea disputes through colluding with the Philippines and Vietnam in order to stir up the disputes in two seas simultaneously and make China chase two rabbits.27

The right of collective self-defense: To gain power to help

The US attitude towards Japan’s pursuit of the right of collective self-defense worries Chinese, who have long believed that Japan has not been satisfied with being protected. Jia Xiudong believes, in Abe’s mind, a normal state should not be restrained by a peace constitution, a purely self-defense policy should be revised, and collective self-defense should not continue to be taboo, allowing self-defense forces to be deployed on Japan’s periphery and beyond. The United States encouraged Japan to gain the collective self-defense right and revise the US-Japan Defense Guidelines by the end of this year to get more support for the rebalancing strategy and sharing the defense burden, anticipating “it has enough chips to maintain Japan under its control.” If Japan’s turn to right-wing politics and its tendency toward remilitarization could not be contained effectively, the whole region, including the United States and Japan itself, would pay a price for Japan’s ambition, Jia asserted.28

After Secretary Chuck Hagel publically welcomed Japan’s policy to reinstall its right to collective self-defense, China sharpened its rhetoric against US endorsement of Japan’s right. Geng Xuepeng asserted, “for the United States, Japan, armed with the collective self-defense right, could gain military power and come to protect American commercial boats, help it to intercept missiles, render weapons and logistic support” and even “could find an excuse to use its self-defense forces to intervene in any possible conflicts between the United States and Russia or the United States and China”, As it declines, troubled by domestic difficulties, for the purpose of containing China, an unleashed Japan is a good pawn in the US chess game. Lifting the ban on collective self-defense equals setting free a tiger on the mountain for three reasons: 1) the historical feud brewed in WWII could hardly be rooted out; 2) the US needs a pawn that is powerful and obedient—Japan is powerful but hardly obedient, as Abe has a long-term ambition to get rid of US control; and 3) Abe is unreliable and might eventually drag the United States into a Japanese war.29

Complex relations

The US-Japan alliance is not free from problems. Lian Degui recognizes, on the one hand, the two both need and support each other; on the other, the competitive aspect of the alliance is demonstrated by three basic facts. First, the United States requires Japan to exercise self-restraint, not caring about its core interest, and for political consideration, would abandon Japan without hesitation. Second, Japan resists the US pressure, as in the ongoing TPP negotiations. Third, the alliance is riddled with mutual suspicion: Japan seeks to get rid of the US imposed postwar system. Abe talks of strengthening the alliance, but he, in fact, has a tendency to drift away from it because he believes that Japan might not be able to count on the declining United States for its own security and might be abandoned because of US dependence on China’s economy and desire to build a new type of major power relationship with it. Also, there are frictions over US military bases in Japan and discord in reactions to China’s Air Defense Identification Zone, when Japan felt abandoned. In Lian’s view, these complex relations can be summarized as mutual dependence, mutual antagonism, and mutual suspicion. Japan is afraid of being abandoned, whereas the United States worries about Japan drifting away or being trapped in Japan’s unwanted conflicts with neighboring countries.30

Japan-Russia Relations

As Japan and Russia’s dispute over territory flared in the wake of President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Kunashir Island, Lu Desheng, asserted that their opinions on this issue are like two parallel lines that never meet. From Russia’s perspective, the islands occupy a very important strategic position, protecting the Far East region and safeguarding the sea lanes to the Kamchatka peninsula; the region has rich natural resources; and if Russia makes territorial concessions to Japan, a chain reaction might take place in its relations with other neighboring countries with which it has territorial disputes. From Japan’s perspective, it stirred up the issue, to respond to the Russian leader’s visit and to deal with domestic political pressure According to Lu, as Russia recovers economically and invests more in the disputed islands, Japan has few bargaining chips to negotiate a settlement. However, it needs Russia’s oil and natural gas and Russia needs Japan’s investment and technology to develop the Far East region. Since the US-Japan security treaty does not cover the islands, a military conflict between Japan and Russia is unlikely.31 In late April 2013, Abe visited Russia in an attempt to restart territorial negotiations, Liu Fan, a retired Chinese ambassador, believes that Japan and Russia have conflicting objectives in building the international order since Russia, as an emerging power, seeks to promote international relations along the direction of justice and democracy whereas Japan tries to strengthen its US alliance and safeguard the developed countries’ fundamental interests. It will be impossible for them to get along and extremely difficult for them to settle their territorial dispute in the long run.32

Japan’s mixed feelings toward Russia

After frequent meetings between Abe and Putin and the resumption of the negotiations over the disputed territory and peace treaty, Japan and Russia seemingly were poised for detente, but Ukraine’s crisis and Russia’s intervention put Japan in a dilemma. Liu Xiaojun wrote that Japan harbors mixed feelings toward Russia, hating it for “illegally” occupying the “Northern Territories,” which possess good ports, rich fishery resources, an important geographic position, and military value, but also frequently demonstrating its love in order to break the deadlock—a love derived from other considerations: 1) Japan’s relations with China and South Korea have run into trouble, and Abe hopes to bypass them by improving relations with Russia; and 2) strengthened economic cooperation with Russia, which increased oil export to Japan by 45 percent in 2013.33 According to Liu, if Japan imposes tough sanctions, its painstaking efforts to settle the territorial dispute and strengthen economic cooperation would have been in vain.

With the crisis in Ukraine deepening, Japan joined other Western countries, imposing further sanctions against Russia. Zhang Mian predicted that although Japan made its sanctions moderate in order to avoid agitating Russia too much, it could not maintain US allied relations and friendly ties with Russia simultaneously. The improved Japan-Russia relations could not escape being shattered.34

Japan-South Korea Relations

As the Sino-US and Sino-Japanese rivalries heat up, South Korea’s position on an array of controversial issues is being carefully watched. According to Zhang Wenzong, “the strategic competition between China and the United States makes South Korea a cherished prize.”35 The US pivot fueled speculation that it would try to form a trilateral alliance—“NATO in Asia.” Sun Ru in 2009 described cooperation in the iron US-Japan-South Korea triangle as “forceful and momentous,” adding that even though “the trilateral relationship has not evolved into a military alliance, it deserves close attention,”36 but Wang Shaopu said, “It is premature for the three nations to form a military alliance.”37

In early 2011, Japan and South Korea tried to sign the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), their first ever military pacts. In June 2012, the United States, Japan, and South Korea conducted their first ever joint military drills in Korean waters, heightening China’s concern. Yu Yongsheng maintained that the United States and Japan had strong motivation to forge a trilateral alliance with South Korea—one perceives this as part of its rebalancing strategy, and the other wants to pull South Korea to its side in order to hedge against China’s rise. But South Korea hesitated due to three factors: Japan’s colonial history, Japan’s legal restraint caused by its lack of the right to collective self-defense, and the unsettled territorial dispute over the Dokdo (Takeshima) Islands. For Yu, these factors could be addressed if the situation on the Korean Peninsula continues to worsen.38 Yang Luoyu believed that although the three did seek military integration, due to historical and current problems, they have not set up a coordination mechanism and cannot form an integrated military force to intervene in regional conflicts. The June 2012 joint military exercise carried more political than military significance.39

As the territorial and historical disputes escalated between Japan and South Korea, China’s concern over a possible trilateral alliance eased. In 2014, as President Obama prepared to visit Japan and South Korea in an attempt to bridge the divide between his two allies, Zhan Debin predicted, “Obama will press Park Geun-hye to soften her tough stance on the historical issue and at the same time nudge Abe Shinzo towards changing course on historical and constitutional revision issues to avoid agitating Korea,” but “Japan and South Korea will not easily bend to Obama’s pressure due to their domestic difficulties.”40 As the US intensified this effort, Sun Ru said, “Japan demonstrated its conciliatory posture in order to sabotage Sino-South Korean unity on the historical issue.”41 In Sun’s opinion, the three are likely to strengthen joint maritime training and enhance their capacity for coordinated action, but if the others try to promote security cooperation with South Korea in order to deal with China, such efforts are likely to go nowhere since its relations with China have become increasingly warm.

Historical issues: a drag on Japan-Korean relations

China and South Korea share similar historical grievances against Japan. As China and Japan plunged into a bitter dispute over historical issues, South Korea could not remain on the sidelines. How South Korea and Japan cope with their disagreement over historical issues attracts close Chinese attention with the “comfort women” issue standing out. Although China set up its first center for comfort women studies at Shanghai Normal University in 1999, which held its first international conference in 2000, China has had no intention of stirring up this issue. Nonetheless, as Japan and South Korea stepped up their dispute, China joined with South Korea. When Hashimoto Toru, mayor of Osaka, publically denied that “comfort women” were sex slaves, Jiang Yaping argued that this remark challenged the consciousness of human beings and if Japan could not reflect deeply and sincerely on its aggression in WWII, it would not be forgiven by the victimized nations, could not normalize its relations with these nations, and would not return to the family of normal nations. China joined South Korea in establishing the Ahn Joong-keun Memorial Hall in Harbin, in staging an Exhibition of Comfort Women Materials in Shanghai, and in conducting joint research. Although Xi Jinping publically confirmed that China and South Korea share similar experiences and common concerns regarding history and many Chinese believe that China and South Korea should form a united front against Japan on historical issues, South Korea did not embrace the idea enthusiastically. Chinese specialists refrain from making explicit comments on the historical and territorial disputes between Japan and South Korea.

A Sino-South Korea alliance?

As early as in 2009, Li Xiushi had already identified factors that restrain Japan-South Korea relations, including: 1) textbook and territorial disputes and Japanese politicians’ denial of Japan’s colonial aggression worsen bilateral relations; 2) the impetus for economic cooperation is weak, unable to elevate bilateral cooperation; 3) the problem-solving mechanism has decayed—the new generation of politicians from both nations lack close ties; and 4) the two have diverging foreign policies.42 Since 2009, these relations have been troubled by historical issues and territorial disputes, and leaders barely talk to each other on international occasions. Against this background, Yan Xuetong publically called for forming a Sino-South Korea alliance in his book, Inertia of History: China and the World in the Next Years.43 In Yan’s view, Japan has become a common threat to China and South Korea. In order to revise the Constitution, Abe denies the history of WWII, negating the justice of Article 9 and intensifies territorial disputes, creating an external threat, which necessitates Japan’s military expansion. Abe’s two tactics inevitably pose a common threat to China and South Korea in the historical and territorial fields.44

Japan-North Korea Relations

From the Chinese perspective, even though Japan has its own agenda in dealing with North Korea, it has been overshadowed by the United States and South Korea. In August 2012, Japan and North Korea restarted official negotiations, suspended for about four years. Yang Xiyu claimed, “from North Korea’s perspective, to develop its relations with Japan would be conducive to set in motion a negotiation with the United States, since North Korea-US relations occupies a most important position in its external relations,” but, in Yang’s view, the renewed negotiation could hardly produce any substantive results.45 Zhang Liangui, in contrast, predicted that the Japan-North Korea negotiations are highly likely to make a certain breakthrough.” On the North Korea side, reasons to pursue rapprochement with Japan include, first, to improve relations with Japan is part of North Korea’s strategy to make the international community recognize it as a nuclear state; second, to get Japan’s war reparations as soon as possible; and third, Japan faces diplomatic isolation caused by its territorial disputes with China, South Korea, and Russia, making it easier for North Korea to promote normalization. On Japan’s side, three other reasons facilitate rapprochement: first, a shortcut for any politician, who wants to win votes is to negotiate a settlement of the abductee issue with North Korea; second, if Japan could greatly improve relations with North Korea, China’s ally, this would constitute a significant blow to China, third, as the United States has communication channels with North Korea, Japan tried to set up its own dialogue mechanism to ward off being abandoned by the United States.46

Chinese writings on Japan’s policy towards North Korea are limited. The May 29, 2014 breakthrough between Japan and North Korea caught Chinese specialists off guard. Shi Yongming, emphasized, “If Japan eases its sanction against North Korea, that move would undermine the US strategy to force North Korea to change through economic strangling. If the United States does not want to reopen the Six-Party Talks and asks Japan to keep sanctions against North Korea, Abe’s sincerity would face a significant test. Japan has a bad record of agreement violation in its relations with North Korea.” Nonetheless, “if Japan could separate the abductee issue from the North Korean nuclear issue, that would be conductive to future resumption of the Six-Party Talks.”47 Han Fuzhong claimed the agreement “is a significant diplomatic breakthrough for North Korea in about ten years.” North Korea could seize the chance to break its diplomatic isolation, reap possible economic benefits, and help to consolidate Kim Jong-un’s power base, gaining Japan’s tacit consent to its nuclear status, rip apart the international sanction system, and drive a wedge into the anti-North Korea US-Japan-South Korea alliance.48


1. Ji Guoping, “Zhongguo Diaoyudao qirong taren siyi maimai,” Renmin ribao, September 11, 2012.

2. Xu Jianmei, “Xinhua guoji shiping: Riben zhengfu zaijingxing yichang weixian de dubo,” Xinhua News, http://news.xinhuanet.com/world/2012-09/10/c_113026584.htm.

3. “Diaoyudao, Zhongguo de ‘guoyou’ diwei buhuibian,” Huanqiu shibao, September 11, 2012.

4. Jiang Lifeng, “Diaoyudao wenti yu Zhongri guanxi” Riben yanjiu, no. 5 (2012): 34.

5. Jiang Lifeng, “Diaoyudao wenti yu Zhongri guanxi,” 46, 48.

6. Xinhua News, “Abe’s ‘Hypocritical’ for Shrine Visit,” The China Daily, December 27, 2013.

7. Zhong Sheng, “Yanfang Riben junguozhuyi sihui furan,” Renmin ribao, January 1, 2014.

8. Zhong Sheng, “Wei qinglue fanan, wei zhanfan zhangmu—lun Anbei Jinsan canbai Jinguo Shenshe de elie xingzhi,” Renmin ribao, January 6, 2014.

9. Zhong Sheng, “Dui liangzhi he gongli de gongran tiaozhan-erlun Anbei Jinsan canbai Jinguo Shenshe de elie xingzhi,” Renmin ribao, January 7, 2014.

10. Zhong Sheng, “Dui liangzhi he gongli de gongran tiaozhan-erlun Anbei Jinsan canbai Jinguo Shenshe de elie xingzhi,” Renmin ribao, January 7, 2014.

11. Zhong Sheng, “Siyi chongji Dongbeiya anquan wending—silun Anbei Jincan canbai Jinguo Shenshe de elie xingzhi” Renmin ribao, January 9, 2014.

12. Transcript, Zhoumo longmenzhen, Phoenix TV, January 19, 2014, http://phtv.ifeng.com/program/zmlmz/detail_2014_01/20/33167048_0.shtml.

13. Xu Yongzhi, “Fanzhi canbai queli Zhongri xiangchu xinmoshi” Zhongguo guofangbao, December 31, 2013.

14. Sun Chenghao, “Zhongguo Dashi Lingxian” Guoji xianqu daobao, January 17, 2014.

15. Wu Huaizhong, “Riben zai Diaoyudao zhengduanzhong de guoji dongyuan” Waijiao xueyuan xuebao, no. 3 (2014): 83.

16. Wu Huaizhong, “Riben zai Diaoyudao zhengduanzhong de guoji dongyuan,” 95-103.

17. Zheng Qingting and Li Jingrui, “Qian Waijiaobu fubuzhang: Zhongri biyou yizhan shuofa weibei lishi chaoliu,” People.cn, August 24, 2014, http://world.people.com.cn/n/2014/0824/c1002-25527249.html.

18. Chen Xiaongyang, “Quanli dahao ezhi Riben youxinghua de ‘xin chijiuzhan,’” Liaowang, no. 2 (2014): 52.

19. Ren Weidong, “Yatai shi Meiguo ezhi Zhongguo de zhuzhanchang,” China Internet Information Center, http://www.china.com.cn/international/txt/2012-08/30/content_26381184.htm.

20. Zhang Shirong, “Meiguo zhongfan Yatai beijing xiade Meiri tongmeng,” Xuexi shibao, July 30, 2012.

21. Wang Peng and Shao Dan, “Meiguo chongfan Yatai zhanlue zhongde Riben juese,” Zhongguo qingnianbao, November 16, 2012.

22. Wu Chunsi, “Meiguo weihe yao zongrong Riben youqinghua,” Xinmin wanbao, January 9, 2014.

23. Wu Chunsi, “Meiguo weihe yao zongrong Riben youqinghua.”

24. Tian Wenlin, “Meizhong jiaqiang hezuo duimei gengyouli,” Renmin ribao (Overseas Edition), September 19, 2012.

25. Wang Peng and Shao Dan, “Meiguo chongfan Yatai zhanlue zhongde Riben juese.”

26. Pang Zhongpeng, “Meiguo shi ruhe shangle Riben ‘zeichuan’ de,” Huanqiu shibao, September 20, 2012.

27. Chen Xiangyang, “Zhongmeilin ‘Yatai daboyi,’” Liaowang, no. 29 (2012).

28. Jia Xiudong, “Riben chengde bushi baohusan, ershi yexin,” Renmin ribao (Overseas Edition), July 14, 2014.

29. Geng Xuepeng, “Riben jiejin jiti ziweiquan, Meiguo xiaozhe liulei,” Xinhua News Agency, July 1, 2014, http://news.xinhuanet.com/mil/2014-07/01/c_126696018.htm.

30. Lian Degui, “Shilun Rimei guanxi de fuzaxing,” Guoji guancha, no. 4, 2014.

31. Lu Desheng, “Eri lingtu zhengduan: shijie enyuan younanle,” Jiefangjunbao, February 16, 2011.

32. Liu Fan, “Lingtu liufen yijiu, Rie guanxi nanyou datupo,” Ta Kung Pao, May 1, 2013.

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