日中国交40年 「互恵」再構築へ長期戦略を

2012-09-30 02:24:51 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 29, 2012)
Long-range strategy a must for Japan-China reciprocity
日中国交40年 「互恵」再構築へ長期戦略を(9月28日付・読売社説)


When diplomatic relations were established between Japan and China in 1972, who could have imagined the relationship would become as strained as it is now?

Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of a joint declaration by then Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing. Despite the importance of the milestone, events celebrating Japan-China ties have been canceled or suspended one after another.

Boycotts of Japanese goods have spread in China, and the bilateral relationship is in an unprecedentedly grave situation. There are no signs that Chinese protests against Japan's decision to nationalize the Senkaku Islands will subside anytime soon.

Rocky relations between the world's No. 2 and No. 3 economies are bound to have an adverse effect on the region as well as the global economy.

How should Japan deal with China? First, it must map out and execute a long-range strategy for normalizing relations.


A political, economic chill

Among the anti-Japan demonstrations that have occurred recently in China, the event that best symbolizes the bleak state of bilateral ties was the attack on a Panasonic Corp. factory by a violent mob.

Panasonic has played a pioneering role among Japanese firms in expanding its operations in China.

A meeting in 1978 between Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of the current Panasonic, and visiting Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping served as a catalyst for expansion by Japanese companies in China. In the meeting, Deng asked Matsushita to support China's development with both technology and business management.

In the wake of the meeting, Japanese firms rushed to establish offices in China, which created many jobs. In addition, the Japanese government continued to loan China yen until fiscal 2007.

There is no doubt the assistance of the Japanese government and companies strengthened China's economic fundamentals and helped China's economy surpass even that of Japan's in terms of gross domestic product.

Japan's cooperation with China, however, is largely unknown to the ordinary people of China.

On the contrary, China in the 1990s strengthened patriotic education in its schools, inculcating anti-Japan sentiment and spreading attitudes downplaying Japan's role among the Chinese public even as the economy developed.

This state of mind appears to be intensifying in China, allowing the current political and economic chill in the bilateral relationship.

Nevertheless, it should never be forgotten that the economies of Japan and China have grown deeply intertwined.

The two countries have established a system of international division of labor in which China imports industrial parts from Japan to assemble into finished products. These are then marketed domestically in China or exported to the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Both sides must not forget this fact.


Strengthen coast guard

The root cause of problems surrounding the Senkaku Islands lies in China's unilateral assertion of a groundless claim to the islets in the 1970s, but only after learning that the area of the East China Sea around the islands might contain rich oil resources.

At a press conference when the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China came into effect in 1978, Deng said, "It does not matter if this question [the dispute over the Senkaku Islands] is shelved for some time," thus proposing leaving the issue to future generations to solve.

However, China in 1992 enacted its Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, which specifies that the islands belong to China. More recently, China has caused friction to flare by repeatedly sending surveillance ships to the waters around the islands.

The recent nationalization of some of the Senkaku Islands is merely a transfer of ownership from a private citizen to the central government. China may have been angered because the purchase took place shortly after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Vladivostok, Russia, but China's ire has been greater than Japan expected.

At a recent meeting between Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in New York, Yang called Japan's nationalization of the islands a "denial" of the outcome of "the anti-fascist war," by which he meant China's victory over Japan in World War II.

We see Yang's attempt to associate the islands with unrelated historical events as extremely far-fetched.

Japan should not stand idly by while China battles for world opinion by vehemently criticizing Japan over nonexistent "faults."

Noda, speaking before the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, said, "Any attempt by a nation to achieve its ideology or claims through the unilateral threat or use of force is absolutely unacceptable." We see this view as eminently reasonable.

China recently launched its first aircraft carrier. The country's policy of expanding its military is sure to continue under its new leadership and will likely be promoted more strongly than ever.

If effective control over the Senkaku Islands were lost, it would be extremely difficult to regain. Therefore, the government must set as its highest priority the strengthening of the Japan Coast Guard's capabilities to counter any infringement on the nation's sovereignty.

Needless to say, a military confrontation must be avoided at all costs. The deployment of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture is an important part of boosting deterrence toward China.


Achieve prosperity together

Since several years ago, beginning with the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan had held talks with China over the joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea from the standpoint of fostering a "strategically reciprocal relationship" so both nations could live in harmony and prosperity.

However, "reciprocal" ties have been stalled since a Chinese fishing vessel rammed JCG patrol vessels off the Senkaku Islands in 2010.

Thorough preparations are essential to rebuilding the reciprocal relationship. The government must inform China through various channels that it is willing to cooperate, not only in the industrial and tourism sectors and in enhancing agricultural productivity, but also in areas such as energy efficiency and environmental protection.

Close cooperation with the United States is also vital in improving the Japan-China relationship, as is strategic diplomacy by reinforcing ties with neighbors, including India, Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 28, 2012)
(2012年9月28日01時12分  読売新聞)


安倍自民新総裁 政権奪還への政策力を高めよ

2012-09-29 05:39:25 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 28, 2012)
Abe should enhance policymaking capability to retake reins of govt
安倍自民新総裁 政権奪還への政策力を高めよ(9月27日付・読売社説)


Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "retry" comes with a heavy task--retaking the reins of government.

Abe was elected president of the Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday, defeating four contenders, including former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Shigeru Ishiba.

Ishiba won the first round of the race by securing a majority of local chapters' votes, but Abe turned the tables in a runoff in which only Diet members were eligible to vote.

Depending on the results of the next House of Representatives election, it is highly likely that Abe will become prime minister. After winning the presidential election, Abe expressed his resolve, saying: "I'll make all-out efforts to retake the reins of government. I'll make a strong Japan." He needs to devise a strategy and policy to revive the nation starting now.


Senkaku issue changes race

The fact that the runoff was fought by Abe and Ishiba, neither of whom head their own faction, illustrates the changes in LDP presidential elections, which in the past were characterized by alliances of intra-party factions.

Initially, LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara was seen as the likeliest to win the LDP presidency, but Abe and Ishiba expanded their support among local rank-and-file members. This is obviously related to China's high-handed behavior toward Japan over the Senkaku Islands.

During the presidential election campaign, Abe and Ishiba stressed the importance of diplomacy and security policy, saying they will resolutely protect Japan's land and territorial waters.

However, we cannot expect sticking to a hard-line stance to improve Japan's relationship with China.

When he was prime minister, Abe rebuilt the relationship with China, which had deteriorated under the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Abe agreed with Beijing to seek a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests."

Amid growing anti-Japan sentiment in China after the Japanese government's purchase of three of the Senkaku Islands, concrete measures to rebuild the Japan-China relationship are now called for again.

Abe indicated that he will work on strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance by enabling Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense and also that he would work to amend the Constitution. In addition, he has a favorable attitude toward reviewing a 1993 statement concerning so-called comfort women, which was issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

These are all reasonable aspirations. We urge Abe to present concrete steps to realize them.

It was unfortunate that there was little in-depth discussion on the challenges Japan currently faces during the party presidential race.


Show clear stance on TPP, energy

Regarding the issue of whether to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, Abe has been wary of clarifying his stance. "We first have to enhance our bargaining power. Then we should consider whether [joining the TPP] would serve the interests of the nation," he said.

A considerable number of LDP members oppose Japan's joining the TPP, so we assume Abe was concerned about the opinion of such lawmakers. However, if Abe really plans to lead the party in regaining power from the Democratic Party of Japan, he must prepare measures to enhance the competitiveness of the nation's agricultural sector and pave the way for the nation to join negotiations for the TPP.

On the energy issue, it was appropriate for him to express negative views on the DPJ-led government's "zero nuclear" policy. However, that is not enough.

Abe should lead discussions within the party over an energy policy capable of securing a stable supply of electricity for the nation--a purpose for which safe nuclear power plants are necessary--and come up with a viable counterproposal.

Six years ago, Abe became the first Japanese born after World War II to assume the post of prime minister. Under the slogan of "departing from the postwar regime," he revised the Fundamental Law of Education and upgraded the Defense Agency to the Defense Ministry. His other achievements include the enactment of the National Referendum Law, which stipulated procedures to amend the Constitution.

However, under his leadership, the LDP suffered a humiliating defeat in the House of Councillors election in July 2007, which divided the Diet as opposition parties took control of the upper house. Soon after the election, Abe resigned from his post.

It is now said that one of the reasons Abe decided to quit was a chronic disease--ulcerative colitis--but the abrupt resignation left a strong impression with the public that Abe had irresponsibly thrown away his administration.

Abe will be tested on whether he can wipe away his negative image of being plagued with health problems and a lack of vigor.

Abe's first task as new LDP president will be to appoint new party executives.

In the first round of the presidential race, Ishiba secured a majority of votes cast by local chapters. At a press conference held after being chosen as the new president, Abe said he will "take this fact seriously." The results showed that Ishiba is highly popular at the local level. It would be reasonable for Abe to give him an important post.

During his time as prime minister, Abe was criticized for appointing too many of his sworn friends and aides to important Cabinet posts. We would like to carefully watch to whom Abe will give senior party posts.


Avoid unproductive confrontations

How Abe will steer the LDP in the next extraordinary Diet session will be important in determining his fate as the new leader.

The ordinary Diet session closed earlier this month after the upper house adopted an opposition-backed censure motion against Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The LDP has said the fact that the upper house has adopted the censure motion will carry over to the next Diet session. However, Abe showed a flexible attitude on the censure motion at the press conference, saying that his party will not necessarily refuse to participate in all Diet deliberations.

It seems that Abe wants to hold Noda to his promise to dissolve the lower house "sometime soon," which the LDP regards as a gentlemen's agreement, in exchange for the LDP's cooperating with the Noda administration on such matters as the passage of a special bill that enables the government to issue deficit-covering bonds in the extraordinary Diet session. We believe this is a constructive approach.

Abe was plagued by a divided Diet when he was the prime minister. It is time to put an end to unproductive confrontations between the ruling and opposition parties, such as opposition parties refusing to participate in Diet deliberations and justifying it with the passage of a censure motion, and political paralysis caused by such confrontations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 27, 2012)
(2012年9月27日01時30分  読売新聞)


中台の領海侵入 示威行動に動ぜず冷静対処を

2012-09-28 04:16:18 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 27, 2012)
Japan should not be perturbed by recent territorial intrusions
中台の領海侵入 示威行動に動ぜず冷静対処を(9月26日付・読売社説)

China and Taiwan are stepping up pressure on Japan over the Senkaku Islands. The government must remain unshaken by this, and should seek to calm the situation through levelheaded diplomacy as soon as possible.

A week has passed since China sent about 10 surveillance ships at one time to areas around the Senkaku Islands. China has repeatedly intruded into Japan's territorial waters, making such surveillance activities appear to be routine operations.

On Tuesday, about 40 Taiwan fishing boats and 12 patrol ships entered Japan's territorial waters. The Taiwan vessels departed after Japan Coast Guard patrol ships took measures against the intruders, such as spraying water at fishing boats.

Taiwan and China in succession started claiming territorial rights over the Senkaku Islands during the 1970s. If the government allows Taiwan and China to enter Japan's territorial waters with impunity, the nation's effective control of the islands might be shaken.

The government must address the issue with precautions and countermeasures. To maintain maritime order, surveillance by JCG patrol ships and other means must be strengthened as much as possible.


Enforcement must be firm

With the enforcement of the revised law on navigation of foreign ships, the JCG is now allowed to issue an order for foreign fishing boats operating in Japan's territorial waters to exit without boarding the vessels. It is essential to eliminate illegal actions more quickly and effectively than before and demonstrate the nation's determination to protect its sovereignty.

Since the government placed the Senkaku Islands under state ownership, China has continued making outrageous responses.

China has called off exchange events with Japan in economic, cultural and sports fields one after another. A major memorial event to mark the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, scheduled for Thursday, has been canceled. So has a visit to China by a Japanese business organization. This is an unusual situation.

These unilateral actions will undermine the international reputation of China itself. Further deterioration in Japan-China relations will only leave scars that will be hard to erase, and the situation will become much more difficult to heal.


Clear understanding needed

The fact that Japan has effectively controlled the Senkaku Islands has not been properly conveyed to the Chinese people due to Beijing's control of the media in that nation. We suspect the Chinese people do not understand what Japan's "nationalization" of the islands means.

China is stepping up its diplomatic offensive as well. It has released a white paper to justify its territorial claim to the Senkaku Islands. In doing so, Beijing apparently aims to make its case in the court of world opinion.

Japan, for its part, needs to make other nations properly understand what has happened with the Senkaku Islands and how calmly Japan has dealt with the issue.

Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai has held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing. The Chinese side reportedly said that Japan "must abandon any illusion, face up to its erroneous actions and correct them with credible steps."

This highlighted Beijing's usual high-handed attitude. But the fact that the two nations agreed to continue talks on the matter can be viewed as positive. The government should find a way to break the deadlock by having a series of talks between foreign ministers as well as between the top leaders of the two nations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 26, 2012)
(2012年9月26日01時22分  読売新聞)


液化天然ガス 官民連携で高値買い是正せよ

2012-09-27 05:33:10 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 26, 2012)
Public, private sectors must team up to lower LNG prices
液化天然ガス 官民連携で高値買い是正せよ(9月25日付・読売社説)

Imports of liquefied natural gas to be used as fuel for thermal power plants have skyrocketed, and the price of LNG has been surging. The public and private sectors must cooperate more to ensure LNG can be procured at a lower price.

LNG-consuming nations, including Japan and South Korea, and producing countries, including Qatar, took part in the first LNG Producer-Consumer Conference in Tokyo last week.

Japan is the world's biggest LNG importer and sucks up 30 percent of the total production volume. Since the crisis began at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Japan has increased its reliance on thermal power generation as an alternative to nuclear power.

Before the crisis, Japan's LNG import bill came to about 3 trillion yen a year. This is expected to double to about 6 trillion yen this year.

If generation costs at electric power companies increase and these costs are passed on through higher electricity bills, it will deal a blow to industries and people's daily lives.


Paying a 'Japan premium'

We are concerned that LNG import prices have surged to about six times the price of natural gas in North America.

LNG prices in Asia are linked to crude oil prices; the recent spike in LNG is partly due to higher oil prices. During last week's conference, Japan called for a review of the current crude oil-linked pricing system, but discussions on the matter ended up being carried over to the next conference.

The top LNG importers following Japan are South Korea, Taiwan, China and India. Asian countries and regions import more than 60 percent of total global LNG output.

It is essential for Japan, together with South Korea and other nations, to introduce a new pricing system and lower LNG prices by pressing producing countries.

As for price negotiations with LNG-producers, we hope a method in which not just a single company but many firms, including electricity and gas utilities, can jointly participate will be considered.

With Japan unable to restart idled nuclear reactors and the government laying out a zero nuclear power policy, LNG producers are cashing in by charging a "Japan premium"--forcing Japan to pay a higher price for LNG.

To alleviate this situation, the government should quickly reactivate nuclear reactors once they have been confirmed safe to operate. The government must give consideration to maintaining a balance among power sources, or it could find itself at even more of a disadvantage when negotiating LNG prices.


Shale gas could be savior

In the United States and other countries, new technologies are being used to extract shale gas contained in rocks deep underground. Shale gas reserves are huge, and extracting them will likely relax the supply-demand balance in the market in the future. Some observers have called this the "shale gas revolution."

It is encouraging that Japanese trading and other companies have started moves to obtain concessions to develop shale gas fields in the United States. The government should provide massive development funds and build a framework that will ensure the stable procurement of shale gas.

However, the United States has decided that its LNG can be exported only to nations that are signatories of free trade agreements with Washington.

The U.S. policy on LNG exports under the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement--an expanded version of an FTA--remains unclear. Nevertheless, Japan, to prepare for the future, needs to quickly announce it will participate in the TPP to ensure negotiations on the trade framework are to its advantage.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 25, 2012)
(2012年9月25日02時13分  読売新聞)


中国威圧外交 リスク増大で日本の投資減も

2012-09-26 04:39:53 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 24, 2012)
Anti-Japan stance may curb investment in China
中国威圧外交 リスク増大で日本の投資減も(9月23日付・読売社説)

Anti-Japan demonstrations in cities around China to protest the Japanese government's purchase of the Senkaku Islands have mostly calmed down.

However, it is a problem that the Chinese government is escalating its overbearing approach in diplomacy.

Chinese authorities banned demonstrations in Beijing after Tuesday, which marked the 81st anniversary of the Liutiaohu bombing incident that prefaced the Manchurian Incident.

The authorities apparently became wary that continuing to allow the demonstrations could threaten social stability because some of them developed into riots.

But we are concerned that Chinese President Hu Jintao and other national leaders have made a series of hard-line statements against Japan. Premier Wen Jiabao said in Brussels, where the China-European Union summit meeting was held, that China "must take strong measures," referring to the Japanese government's purchase of the Senkaku Islands.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who will succeed Hu at the upcoming National Congress of the Communist Party of China, also said some groups in Japan repeated mistakes and "staged the farce" of purchasing the islands.

They apparently were expressing their determination to make no concessions at all to Japan.


Doing business in China risky

However, we believe it was to the Chinese side's disadvantage that the demonstrations have made Japanese companies keenly realize the risks of doing business in China.

Resumption of operations is being delayed at some of the Japanese factories in China attacked by demonstrators. The Chinese side has not shown any willingness to pay compensation for damage caused during the protests. The Japanese nonlife insurance sector estimated that insurance payouts to the damaged companies would reach 10 billion yen in total. That eventually might raise insurance fees of the companies.

It is also a matter of concern that strikes for pay raises are occurring frequently at Japanese-affiliated plants in Guangdong and other provinces in China.

We understand why one Japanese business leader after another is expressing wariness about investment in China, saying they must be cautious.

Japanese firms have placed much value on China as the factory of the world and increased their investment in that country. Such investment reached a total of 6.3 billion dollars last year, up 50 percent from the previous year. This contrasts with U.S. investment in China, which fell 26 percent last year to a mere 3 billion dollars.


Millions work at Japan firms

Such aggressive investment by Japanese companies is sustaining China's employment and economy. It is estimated that several million Chinese work at Japanese-affiliated companies in China.

The violent anti-Japan demonstrations have trampled on cooperative relations between China and Japan that have been nurtured over many years.

It is highly likely that Japanese companies will sharply curb their investment in China and instead increase investment in other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand.

Because the Chinese economy is continuing to slow down due to a decrease in exports and other factors, China's real economic growth rate this year is expected to drop below 8 percent. It is certain that--depending on the investment strategy of Japanese companies--downward pressure could further increase on the Chinese economy, negatively affecting employment there.

China should realize that continuing its hard line against Japan could boomerang to its own disadvantage.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 23, 2012)
(2012年9月23日01時13分  読売新聞)