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Japan, too, is worried

Posted by Helen Tuesday, February 08, 2005

An article in yesterday’s International Herald Tribune looked at another aspect of the China problem. One country that is getting distinctly edgy is Japan, and this despite a great deal of Japanese investment in China and growing trade between the two countries.

In fact, so edgy is Japan that recently its government has once again been fostering good relations with the United States, and erstwhile proponents of the need for Japanese “independence” are now speaking in favour of that development. The growing enemy is China.

“Japan lobbies Europe and Russia not to sell advanced weapons to China's military; China opposes Japan's aspirations to a seat on the UN Security Council. China fumes at Japan's friendly relations with Taiwan; Japan wonders why it is giving aid to a nation that has a program to put a man on the moon.

For years, Japan reflexively smoothed over any frictions with China. But its patience may be spent.

Last November, Japanese destroyers chased a Chinese submarine from around Japan's southernmost islands; in December, Tokyo formally identified Beijing as a potential military threat. Ignoring Chinese objections, Japan welcomed Lee Teng-hui, a former president of Taiwan, on a visit last month, and the Dalai Lama is expected in April.Over the last 25 years, Japan has provided China with nearly $30 billion in development loans, a fact rarely mentioned in China's news media.

During his four years in office, Koizumi has cut development aid to China in half, and he is now considering halting it entirely. "I think it's graduation time," he told reporters recently.”
And where will the European Union stand in all this?