NHK Radio Japan reports that
Japan’s ambassador to China has left Beijing for a brief return to Tokyo. The diplomat will report on China’s recent actions concerning the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Ambassador Uichiro Niwa left the Chinese capital on Sunday.
Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told reporters in Vietnam on Saturday that he wants to discuss with Niwa in person recent developments in China.
China has sharply reacted to the Japanese government’s plan to nationalize some of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. The islands are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
The foreign ministers of Japan and China met in Cambodia, but failed to narrow differences on the issue.
Niwa told reporters at Beijing airport that his briefing will also include the recent intrusion of Chinese patrol ships into Japanese territorial waters. He added that no schedule has been set for his return to Beijing.
The Chinese Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily warned of the possibility that the territorial issue could get out of control.
China’s state media last night broke the news of Niwa’s departure, highlighting its keen interest in the issue.
Jul. 15, 2012 – Updated 02:15 UTC (11:15 JST)
Niwa had warned in an interview with the Financial Times in June that plans by the Tokyo municipal government to buy the Senkaku islands from their private Japanese owner could spark an “extremely grave crisis” between Japan and China. The Japanese government distanced itself from Niwa’s statement, referring to it as the ambassador’s personal opinions.
The New York Times takes stock of Japan’s more general diplomatic status, and adds the issue of sex slaves to the picture. Not only South Korea, but the U.S., too, objected to Japanese euphemisms, and disagreements over history and territory continued to isolate Japan from the rest of Asia. One of Niwa’s colleagues, Japan’s ambassador to America, had only added to tensions by trying to have a monument to the sex slaves removed from a public park in New Jersey.
Huanqiu Shibao republishes an article from China’s second-largest newsagency, China News Service (中国新闻网 / 中国新闻社), which draws a rather optimistic picture of Niwa’s trip to Tokyo.
According to reports, Japanese ambassador Uichiro Niwa left Beijing on Sunday morning. Experts*) believe that Japan’s main objective is to gather information on the latest Chinese developments concerning the Diaoyutai [Senkaku] Islands, and that Japan begins to attach importance to China’s reactions.
Huanqiu also refers to Niwa’s Financial-Times interview in June:
Uichiro Niwa said at the airport on Sunday that he was going to Tokyo to report on the latest trends in Sino-Japanese relations. When asked when he would return to Beijing, he said that this hadn’t yet been decided.
Last month, in an interview with the British “Financial Times”, Niwa said that Japan’s [planned] nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands would “damage Sino-Japanese relations”, which led to domestic criticism. Japan’s foreign minister issued a warning to Niwa, and Niwa made a public apology.
According to Foreign Affairs University professor Zhou Yongsheng’s analysis, this time’s summoning of the ambassador back to Beijing isn’t punitive, and won’t result in replacing him, but is meant to gain first-hand information about China’s attitude concerning the Diaoyu Islands. [Japanese foreign minister] Gemba also stated clearly that he would let Niwa travel back to Beijing as soon as the reporting on the situation in China was completed.
“Japan’s summoning of its ambassador shows the sensitive side of Japan’s policies on China. The Japanese government has become aware of the trend of ever-stronger Chinese reactions concerning the Diaoyu Islands, and the need to attach importance to Chinese reactions and trends.” Professor Zhou believes that the Japanese step could spel a new trend in Japan’s policies on the Diaoyu Islands, from the previous insensitive isolated actions to a beginning attention to Chinese trends and reactions.
Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi reiterated China’s principled position concerning the Diaoyu Islands, during a meeting with Gemba on July 11, and urged the Japanese side to conscientiously abide by the consensus and understanding the two sides had achieved so far, to return to the correct path of managing and controlling the differences by dialog and consultations, and to protect the overall picture of relations between the two countries by conscientious actions.
Facing the recent provocative Japanese moves, China expressed its firm position on many occasions, emphasized that the Diaoyu Islands and pertaining islands had been inherent Chinese territory since ancient times, and that China had an indisputable historic and legal basis [for this]. China’s sacred territory would never be allowed to be taken away by anyone to be bought or sold. China’s government would continue to take all measures necessary to protect its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and pertaining islands.
Experts say that in this year of the 40th anniversary of normalizations of relations with Japan, China had always made efforts to improving the two countries’ relations, but Japan, despite Chinese opposition, had made frequent moves on the purchasing [nationalization] issue and created “serious damage” to Sino-Japanese relations.
Huanqiu quotes Zhou as saying that the Japanese government had made a “big fuss” (wrote an essay, 做文章) of foreign issues, and particularly the Senkaku Islands issue.
He [Zhou] also said that there are now three likely scenarios of how Japan will handle the existing problems with the Diaoyu Islands. One is that they will hear from their ambassador to China that China will take strong countermeasures against the “nationalization” of the islands, and that there will be big impacts on Sino-Japanese relations. The Japanese government may therefore delay its “nationalization” strategy. The second possibility is that, a weak Noda government, under pressure from the domestic right-wing forces, will continue “nationalization”. The third possibility would be that the Japanese government completely abandons said plan, but that likelihood is extremely small.
On many occasions, Huanqiu Shibao is fond of stirring shit, i. e. publishing rather mortified or combative articles. This article’s goal appears to be to educate the paper’s comparatively nationalist and angry readership into a direction of patience and perseverance – as shown by the Chinese government in its – ulimately fruitful – dealings with Japan. Probably to make sure that the lesson won’t get spoiled by reactions from the readership who demand “tougher action”, the article comes without a commenting thread.
There is, however, a menu of expressions readers may choose from – which was apparently done by 283 readers at the time of this translation. 162 of them find the news “ridiculous”, 78 are “angered”, and 19 are “bored”.
*) The article refers to Zhou Yongsheng throughout, and “expert”, rather than “experts”, may therefore be the more accurate translation.
» China’s Brinkmanship, The Diplomat (JM Cole), July 13, 2012