Sino-Japanese Relations: Facing the Past, Looking to the Future?

Sino-Japanese Relations: Facing the Past, Looking to the Future?

Sino-Japanese Relations: Facing the Past, Looking to the Future?

Sino-Japanese Relations: Facing the Past, Looking to the Future?

Synopsis

Over recent years, there has been increasing interest in the relationship between China & Japan, particularly as a way of understanding political, economic & security developments within the whole East Asia region. Rose presents a thorough, balanced & objective examination of both sides of the relationship.

Excerpt

It may seem odd to discuss reconciliation in the context of a relationship between two countries which ceased hostilities nearly sixty years ago, which normalised relations thirty years ago, and which are actively pursuing a friendly, cooperative partnership at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Indeed, as will be discussed below, China and Japan have been undergoing reconciliation for the past fifty years. But as the introduction illustrated, despite the efforts of leaders and citizens alike, fundamental problems relat-ing to the war between China and Japan still exist, and appear to pose a formidable obstacle to settlement of the past and, therefore, to the smooth running of the relationship in the future. The aim of this chapter is to provide a framework for the book as a whole, and some context for the case studies that follow. It considers the process of reconciliation as a means of explaining and understanding the efforts made by the Chinese and Japanese govern-ments and society to settle the past. The literature on reconciliation describes a series of stages through which two parties must pass in their attempts to overcome past problems. The issues covered in this book - textbook prob-lems, compensation cases, and a range of activities associated with com-memoration and memorial - can be seen as different stages along the path of reconciliation.

There are a number of historical reasons for the difficulties faced by both sides in coming to terms with the past. These reasons will be discussed more fully in Chapter 2, but, briefly, the domestic political climates in each country following the war, the outcome of war crimes trials, and the onset of the Cold War had the effect of halting nascent debates about the war within each country, as well as dialogues between the two countries. Domestic constraints or political struggles over history (for example, the education battle between the Left and Right in Japan or the relative lack of academic freedom in China until the late 1970s) further hampered efforts to settle sensitive issues to do with the past. As Carol Gluck points out in reference to Japan, the 'early mastery of the past … froze condemnation of the war into orthodoxy at a stage when the division of villains and victims seemed starkly clear' (1992:13). This could apply equally to China where the communist lore on the War of Resistance against Japan was established very early in the PRC's history.

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