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China Daily Website

Beijing-Tokyo ties 'unlikely to recover soon'

Updated: 2013-10-16 06:56
By Cai Hong in Tokyo and Zhao Yanrong in Beijing ( China Daily)

Sino-Japanese relations are unlikely to improve anytime soon if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech to his country's parliament on Tuesday is any indication, a Chinese expert said.

In a speech opening the Japanese parliament's extra session, Abe pledged to push forward with his plans to bolster Japan's defense in the face of what he called an "increasingly insecure environment".

Abe said he will establish a security council within his office that will be a diplomatic and defense command center, a move lawmakers are expected to approve during the 53-day session.

Abe said Japanese coast guard officers and Self-Defense Forces deployed around the Diaoyu Islands are "facing 'reality' in this instant of time and we must not look away from this 'reality', which shows the security environment is growing increasingly severe," Kyodo News reported.

Hu Jiping, director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the Abe administration is using China as an excuse to justify its military buildup.

"Abe's aggressive stance on security issues will do no good to ties with China," Hu said. "I don't see that Abe has a desire to mend Japan's relationship with China."

Abe also seeks to allow Japanese defense troops to fight when its allies are attacked, which would require reinterpreting the war-renouncing Article 9 of the country's pacifist Constitution. The move is a reversal of the stance of previous administrations.

"As global interdependency deepens, Japan can no longer protect its own peace without actively fulfilling its responsibility to global peace and stability," Abe said in the speech.

The ruling party also hopes to pass a companion bill protecting state secrets. Supporters of the legislation said it is necessary as Japan seeks greater responsibility in international security.

Economic ties soured about a year ago, after Japan announced plans to "nationalize" some of China's Diaoyu Islands.

In the first half of this year, Japan's exports to China fell 17.1 percent, while Japanese imports from China fell 6.9 percent, according to Japanese customs officials. China is still Japan's largest trading partner, but Japan will lose more market share in China under the trend.

November will see an influx of Japanese politicians and business people into China, including Democratic Party of Japan leader Banri Kaieda, according to Kyodo News. The Japan-China Economic Association, headed by Toyota Motor Corp Chairman Fujio Cho, is expected to send a group of about 100 Japanese business magnates to China next month.

"Those trips may somehow help improve economic ties," Hu said.

But "without a fundamental improvement in political ties, economic relations will not get much better," he said.

Zhang Yunbi contributed to this story.

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