Academic journal article Asian Perspective

Gratitude and Resentment in China-Japan Relations: Japan's Official Development Assistance and China's Renunciation of War Reparations

Academic journal article Asian Perspective

Gratitude and Resentment in China-Japan Relations: Japan's Official Development Assistance and China's Renunciation of War Reparations

Article excerpt

China and Japan celebrated the forty-fifth anniversary of their diplomatic relations in 2017. Their relationship is generally characterized by deep interdependence. Nevertheless, the relationship is severely affected by historical questions related to the Japanese war of aggression against China that ended more than seventy years ago. These historical questions continue to buffet Japan's relations with neighboring countries, hindering multilateral cooperation in East Asia and regional integration. Beyond questions of historical facts and interpretation lie deeply rooted, fraught emotional issues that, from time to time, intrude on Japan's relations with its neighbors. In this article I explore the connection between historically based emotional issues and economic interests in China-Japan relations by analyzing the linkage between China's renunciation of war reparations and Japan's official development assistance (ODA) to China.

In September 1972, when China and Japan normalized their diplomatic relations, China renounced its demand for war reparations. Seven years later, in December 1979, when Prime Minister Ohira Masayoshi visited China, he indicated Japan's intention to provide ODA to China. Japan's ODA was originally conceived as a form of intergovernmental economic cooperation, providing assistance to developing countries and multilateral institutions to promote economic development and social welfare in developing countries. However, was Japan's provision of ODA to China a substitute for war reparations renounced by China? The linkage between Japan's provision of ODA and China's renunciation of war reparations has frequently been asserted.

For example, on December 2, 2004, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told reporters, "It is well known that the Japanese Government yen loan to China is a kind of mutual cooperation with a special political and historical background" (Renmin wang 2004). Addressing Zhang Qiyue's statement, Dangzheng luntan (Party and government forum) extracted an article by Shi Hua published in Huanqiu shibao (Global Times), pointing out that this "included the background of China's renunciation of Japan's war reparations" (Shi 2004, 2005, 24). Tencent Network opened a Jinri huati (Today's topic) special column (no. 61) to discuss the linkage between economic aid and war reparations between China and Japan with the following remark: "Chinese people have long been furious at the way Japan successfully used NationalistCommunist conflict and the international situation to obtain exemption from the war reparations for China." Another view is that, "Thanks to China's renunciation of war reparations, Japan has provided a large volume of assistance to China." This view also appeared in the Chinese press (Jinri huati 2012). However, so far, this issue has rarely been discussed in academic circles. For instance, Jin Xide, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences only mentioned that Japan's ODA to China "contains a sense of historical guilt about the past war of aggression and a psy- chology of compensation for China's renunciation of war reparations" (Jin 1999, 10; 2006, 31), but did not expand on this view. Lin Xiaoguang, a professor at the Central Party School, argued that Japanese who have a sense of conscience, justice, and historical responsibility regard Japanese aid to China as material and practical action "in place of war reparations" or "repentance and apology" (Lin and Sun 2005, 8). Sekiyama Takashi (2008), a Japanese scholar, has a similar view, but neither Lin nor Sekiyama has discussed their views in detail. What indeed is the linkage between Japan's ODA to China and China's renunciation of war reparations?

To answer this question, I first review the history of China's renunciation of war reparations, then I analyze why China decided to accept loans from the Japanese government, and, finally, I examine what main factors were behind Japan's decision to provide yen loans to China. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.