Home Contact Us  

East Asia: Japan, Australia and the Koreas - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4703, 20 October 2014
China and Japan: Will the Twain Never Meet?
Srikanth Kondapalli
Professor in Chinese Studies, Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

With prospects for a bilateral meeting between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and China’s President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit at Beijing in November brightening, the East Asian security situation may after the war of words and deeds in East China Sea over the past four years. Already, both the foreign ministers met at Naypyidaw in August. However, China Daily’s survey found that nearly 53 per cent Chinese believe that war is imminent, although Genron’s Japanese survey indicated that only 29 per cent Japanese see conflict emerging between the two. The rise in tensions between the two since the nationalisation of the Senkaku Islands by the central government in Tokyo made China's Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua state in mid-June 2014 that bilateral relations are “suffering the toughest-ever situation.” However, it is not clear whether Japan would accept the two conditions of Beijing, viz., not to visit theYasukuni Shrine again (PM Abe visited in December 2013) and Japan should consider that there is indeed a dispute in the East China Sea over the islands.

Bilateral Tensions
Tensions have been mounting for a long time now despite economic interdependence. Recently, these were triggered by the intrusion of a 15-member crew led by Zhan Qixiong of the trawler Minjinyu 5179 on 07 September 2010 at the Senkaku Islands administered by Japan, but claimed by China. Later, such incidents continued to test the bilateral relations. On 24 August 2011, for instance, a Chinese vessel marched past the Japan Coast Guard patrol boat. On 13 December 2012, two months after the Japanese government purchased the islands, a Chinese surveillance airplane entered Japanese airspace near the Senkaku Islands. China was also critical of PM Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine in 2013, the first by a serving Japanese prime minister since 2006.

A series of incidents in the last few months indicate that both Japan and China have not reached equilibrium in their bilateral relations but have fanned out into a bilateral war of words that has spilled over into regional security domains. On 04 June, the G-7 Summit meeting at Brussels declared that it is opposed to "any unilateral attempt by any party to assert its territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force," with reference to the tensions in the East China Sea. This statement was not explicit about either Japan or China, indicating China’s back-channel diplomacy with UK, France and Germany. The next day, the Lower House of the Japanese Diet decided to pass a resolution critical of Chinese air intrusions into Japanese airspace.

The Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on 11 June that his government had lodged a protest over China’s application to register the historic records of Japan's wartime sex slaves and the Nanjing Massacre with UNESCO. He asked China to withdraw it, but in vain. On the same day, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Japanese House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning China's Haiyang Shiyou 981 drilling activities in the disputed South China Sea (also opposed by Vietnam). Again, on the same day, China sent aircraft as close as 30 metres from Japanese defense aircraft in the East China Sea. To recall, on 24 May, a similar incident was reported by the Japanese. China said that two Japanese airplanes, OP-3C and YS-11EB, intruded in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone on 24 May to scout and interfere with China-Russia naval drills. On 29 May, a Chinese frigate locked its fire-control radar on the Japanese destroyer JS Sawagiri near a gas field in the disputed East China Sea in addition to targeting a P3C aircraft. Later, Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera protested against these incidents. Japanese defence ministry reports stated that the Japanese fighter jets were scrambled in response to foreign aircraft 810 times in 2013, more than half of them Chinese. A Chinese patrol boat was spotted in the Japanese EEZ on 13 June. Later, on 27 June, a Chinese boat sank north of the Senkaku Islands, sinking a number of personnel.

On 31 June, the Japanese cabinet passed a resolution that allows Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense and take military action to defend other countries even though the countryitself is not under attack. In the backdrop of the Philippines’ struggle against China’s march in the South China Sea, Japan’s decision meant that it could offer at least non-combat assistance.

That the war of words is expanding the ambit is also indicated by China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying when she criticised Japan for under-reporting its nuclear materials. She said that Japan should “address the imbalance between its demand and supply of sensitive nuclear materials.” The Japanese government had not declared about 640 kg of unused plutonium in its annual report for the IAEA in 2012 and 2013, an amount enough to make 80 nuclear bombs. Japan claims to own 44 tons of plutonium, while the actual amount is 45 tons, said Japan's Kyodo News Agency. The unreported plutonium is part of the plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel placed at an offline reactor in a nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture, southern Japan.

The consequences of the above are spilling over into the economic domain. For instance, foreign direct investment from Japan into China slumped 42.2 per cent in 2013 from the previous year. So did bilateral trade figures, with Japan choosing to expand trade and investments with Vietnam other Southeast Asian countries and India.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Vijay Shankar,
"Strife on the Global Commons," 14 July 2014

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Donald Trump and China: A Contest for Primacy

Maritime Silk Road: Increasing Chinese Inroads into the Maldives

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping: Building a Closer Developmental Partnership

India-China Bilateral Under Narendra Modi

China and the Ukraine Crisis: Walking on the Razorís Edge

Political Democracy for Tibetans: Chinaís Rising Dilemma

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.