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Mending Japan and China Relations

Japan nationalized [ja] the Senkaku Islands (note: China refers to them as Daiyo Islands) on September 11, 2012, setting off anti-Japan protests in China. Those protests and the subsequent reactions from Japanese Internet users were covered in our previous post [ja].

Official ties between both countries are still at an impasse as of late October. While both governments are struggling to improve relations, some success has been seen among civil society.

Blogger Yokodo-Syujin looks at several efforts led by authors of the two countries, who hope to mend the relationship. He refers to Nobel Prize Laureate Mo Yan in his post [ja] on October 12:

莫言氏の受賞は日中関係修復へのシグナル

ノーベル文学賞は、中国人作家の莫言氏が受賞しました。村上春樹氏も有力視されていましたが、「日中対決」とも言われた今回の文学賞は、中国が制した形となりました。中国人は喜んでいますが、この選考は中々興味深いものがあります。

…(中略)…

民主派の中国人は莫言氏に批判的ですが、共産体制下ですから致し方ないでしょう。2年前の2010年にノーベル平和賞を受賞した劉暁波氏に対しては、当局は弾圧を加えて言論活動を封じています。こうなったら何もできませんから、体制批判をしようとしたら相当な工夫が必要となります。

日中関係が最悪の状態にある中で親日家の莫言氏がノーベル文学賞に選ばれたのは、関係修復の契機にしたいという選考委員会の意図が感じられます。山中伸弥氏[en]に続いて村上春樹氏が受賞したら、日中関係は更に冷え込んでしまいます。ノーベル賞には常に、政治的な意図が込められています。

Mo Yan's win is a signal that Japan-China relations are mending

Chinese author Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Japanese author Haruki Murakami had been regarded as a likely winner, but for the literature prize that was said to be “the Japan and China confrontation”, the result came as a win for China. The Chinese people are pleased, but this selection is an  interesting development.

…(omission)…

The liberals in China are said to be critical of Mr. Mo Yan, but this is unavoidable under the Communist Party system. The authorities oppressed Mr. Liu Xiaobo and his speech activities, Mr.Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago in 2010. So we know there's no room for criticizing the system unless you come up with something really creative.

I sense in choosing Mo Yan for the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Nobel selection committee took this occasion to mend the relationship of Japan and China. Mr. Mo Yan is known to be pro-Japan. If Mr. Murakami had won the prize, the relationship of the two countries would have likely deteriorated, especially after Shinya Yamanaka‘s Nobel win. The Nobel Prize is always backed by a political motive.

He also refers to Professor Cui Weiping who made a call on the Internet to improve relations, which was also noted in an article in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun [ja].

According to the post, it was a civil movement in Japan that pushed Mr. Mo Yan to make a call for a petition [zh] to rationalize views on relations.

The movement was organized by citizen groups under the slogan “Stop Vicious Cycle of Territorial Dispute.” According to the group [ja] 1600 people including the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature recipient author Kenzaburo Oe showed support.

On the website for the movement, it says international solidarity and action including that of Mr.Mo Yan is “significant” and “civil actions seeking peace and co-living transcending borders are quite significant.”

On the other hand MSN Sankei News reported [ja] the slogan was “anti-Japan” and many criticized [ja] Mr.Oe and the civic group.

 

「領土問題」で国会前行動

Citizen gathers under a slogan “stop vicious cycle of territorial dispute and people of Asia lets start uniting not for war but for peaceful solution”. Image by Labornet Japan. October 18, 2012. (Used with permission)

While anti-Japan protests expanded, the blogger Yokodo-shujin [ja] wrote constantly for a month about his concern with deteriorating Japan-China relations.

On September 17, he wrote a post titled “the essence of rioting in an anti-Japan protest is a struggle for power” [ja]. On September 18 he wrote, “most Chinese see the U.S. pulling strings from behind” [ja] and suggested who was profiting from the dispute. And the following day, he wrote “citizens of both countries are used and abused” [ja] taking precaution to the heat. He continues to write his own thoughts on his blog.

これは非常によいですね。とても冷静で建設的な提言です。日中両政府は、こうした良心的な国民の声に真摯に耳を傾けるべきです。

…(中略)…

崔衛平氏ら実名で署名した人たちはとても勇気のある人たちで、中国人の良心を代表しています。我々日本人は、こういう人たちと連携して共存共栄を図ってゆく必要があります。

This proposal is very constructive. Both Japan and Chinese government should listen to the voices of citizens of conscience.

< omission >

People who signed the petition in their real name are very courageous. People like Cui Weiping represent the good heart of China. We Japanese should work together with these people to flourish together.

The seeds of dialogue continues to grow in both countries.

This post features Yokodo-shujin blog with permission.

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