Japan’s new ambassador to China, Masato Kitera (木寺昌人), will watch China’s Japan policies closely, Huanqiu Shibao quotes China Radio International online (国际在线, CRI) – which in turn had quoted Kyodo News, from an interview on Thursday. No matter which shape Japan’s next government would take, diplomatic relations with China would be important. There was nothing supernatural in the world of diplomacy, and problems in politics could only be solved with by perseverance. An emergence of new problems couldn’t be ruled out, but he would then have to address and explain them in good faith.
Japanese analysts had close contacts with Japan’s governing Democratic Party, and given his rank as assistent chief cabinet secretary, the government’s decision to appoint him as the country’s ambassador to China showed some kind of importance attached to relations with China, and serious efforts to break the current confrontative deadlock. However, Huanqiu also quotes views that the Noda government was approaching a defeat in the coming elections, and a new government could make it difficult for Kitera to be influential in its policies towards China.
According to the usual Huanqiu emoticons underneath the article, eighteen reader-voters find the article (or the news it contains boring, and thirteen find it ridiculous. Only one is “angry”.
A commenter finds it tiresome to see that meaningless (or boring) Japanese dog again. It should leave and pick up one of the bones from its American daddy instead, the commenter suggests. Another expresses hope that some day, there would be no need to attach importance to Japan which was just a dog (what else). “Let’s strengthen ourselves, and casually oppress Japan.”
But generally, the boredom appears to be genuine: there were only five comments during the first hour (if not two hours) the article had been online.
Masato Kitera was chosen as ambassador in early October this year. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on October 6, he is a career diplomat with little Chinese experience, but renowned for his mediating skills.
In contrast to CRI/Huanqiu’s comparatively optimistic news article today, the SCMP article in October quoted Zhou Yongsheng (周永生), a Japanese affairs expert at China Foreign Affairs University, as saying that [n]aming someone who has no China experience simply tells us that Tokyo does not pay much attention to Sino-Japanese ties.
Zhou Yongsheng had appeared to be more sanguine in July this year. When Japan’s current ambassador, Uichiro Niwa, left Beijing for a brief return to Tokyo to report on Chinese actions concerning the Senkaku Islands, Zhou suggested that the Japanese government wanted to gain first-hand information about China’s attitude concerning the Diaoyu Islands. And [t]he 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, Zhou believed back then.
Shanghaiist, also in October, kind of agreed with Zhou’s second thoughts: Kitera was […] a man who has never served in any important roles related to China and (by taking this post) clearly makes poor career decisions.
Kitera will reportedly be posted in Beijing on December 25.