[EDITORIALS]Japan should defuse the angerAnti-Japan rallies have been going on in China for three weeks now. The protests began in a few major cities, then spread nationwide in every direction, including Shanghai, Shenyang and Hong Kong. The protests have diversified in their tactics, from simple street rallies to attacks on Japanese shops and businesses, boycotts of Japanese products and labor action by Chinese employees at Japanese businesses. Japanese citizens have responded to the violent nature of these rallies with violence of their own in Japan, attacking and threatening Chinese diplomatic missions and attempting self-immolation.
For the sake of development and peace in Asia, and a cooperative, friendly relationship between China and Japan, a prolonged confrontation between these two is not desirable. If the conflict persists as it has, radical nationalistic elements in both countries will provoke a fight over regional hegemony. Such a confrontation would disturb the foundation of peace and stability in the region.
Therefore, the foreign ministries of both countries and those in positions of leadership must make a diplomatic efforts to cool the situation down. In particular, it is time for Japan to take a more broad-minded position, one that is geared toward the future.
The anti-Japanese sentiment that is prevailing in China, Korea and in Southeast Asia right now was provoked by Japanese attempts to distort historical fact, by Japan’s territorial provocations and by the absurd remarks of right-wing politicians who do not take into account the feelings of neighboring countries.
In this regard, it was not appropriate for Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, currently in Beijing, to demand apologies and compensation for the damages inflicted by the protesters without mentioning the root cause of the rallies, and of the anti-Japanese sentiment in general.
The Chinese authorities should, of course, guarantee the security of diplomatic facilities and bona fide Japanse investors, and should prevent rallies from becoming violent.
But to repair this uneasy situation Japanese leaders must demonstrate a more future-oriented, broad-minded attitude.
Rather than peddling favors to underdeveloped countries to try to get a seat at the United Nations Security Council, it is more urgent for Japan to restore the confidence of its neighbors.