China-Japan relations

People cross a street during the "golden week" holiday in Tokyo's Shinjuku area on 5 May 2022. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Why Japan and China have totally different ideas of their foreign ministers' meeting

Following a video conference between the foreign ministers of Japan and China, each side's readout of the meeting seems to differ. While Japan's statement mentioned tough public opinion towards China and issues such as the East China Sea and the war in Ukraine, China's statement emphasised the 50th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic relations between China and Japan. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima explains the differences.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo shows Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida a souvenir following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, Indonesia, 29 April 2022. (Muchlis Jr./Indonesia's Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters)

Kishida’s charm diplomacy in Southeast Asia: Moral suasion does the trick

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visits to Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand have burnished Japan’s regional credentials, particularly on contentious issues such as the war in Ukraine, the South China Sea disputes and the evolving order in the Indo-Pacific.
Japanese foreign minister Hayashi Yoshimasa (second from right, in grey suit) walks with G7 countries foreign ministers during their summit in Weissenhaeuser Strand, Germany, 12 May 2022. (Marcus Brandt/Pool via Reuters)

It's hard to be neighbours: When will Japan advance its diplomacy with China and South Korea?

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima notes that Japan has been active on the international front, engaging the West as well as the Southeast Asian nations. However, it seems that with an eye to public sentiment, it is maintaining a cautious approach towards China and South Korea. When will it be opportune for Japan to advance to the next stage of foreign policy engagement?
A group of naval vessels from China and Russia sails during joint military drills in the Sea of Japan, in this still image taken from video released on 18 October 2021. Video released 18 October 2021. (Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Would cross-strait reunification threaten Japan's maritime oil routes?

Researcher Chen Hongbin says that Japan's reason for opposing cross-strait reunification, that China could sever Japanese maritime oil routes by firing from eastern Taiwan, is unfounded. China already has the capability to attack Japan's oil tankers anyway, even without reunification; but most importantly, any maritime security issue in the vicinity would pose a greater threat to China.
Staff members work near the emblem for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics displayed at the Shanghai Sports Museum in Shanghai, China, 8 December 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Why Japan did not impose a 'diplomatic boycott' of the Beijing Winter Olympics

Last month, Japan announced that no ministers would be attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, but did not term it a "diplomatic boycott". Nonetheless, Japan has made it clear that it believes in universal values like human rights and the rule of law. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima notes that Japan has taken an independent decision that shows its stand while not explicitly straining Japan-China relations.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 14 October 2021. (Eugene Hoshiko/Pool via Reuters)

Japanese politicians tussle over power and speaking rights on Taiwan

Recent comments by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have people speculating if Japan is taking a more hawkish stance on Taiwan. Japan-based academic Zhang Yun explains that this is a combination of factional politics between the liberal-leaning Kochikai faction led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the neo-conservatives within the LDP, as well as the dynamics of Japan’s relationship with the US and China. With the 50th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic ties between Japan and China taking place next year, will the Taiwan card be further in play?
 Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi (left) and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. (Wikimedia)

Dealing with challenges of a rising China in the Indo-Pacific: Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

What drives the interest of the West and Japan in the Indo-Pacific? Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is also president of Asia Society Policy Institute, present two perspectives from the region. This opinion piece was first published in THE BERLIN PULSE, Körber-Stiftung or the Körber Foundation’s guide to German foreign policy.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a press conference at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, Tokyo, 7 April 2020. (Wikimedia)

What's behind Shinzo Abe's outburst over the Taiwan Strait issue?

Recent comments by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Japan would not stand by if China launched an offensive on Taiwan have raised the hackles of Beijing, which sees such rhetoric as supporting Taiwan independence. Former Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso also made similar hawkish comments in July. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong examines Abe’s possible motivations, including reining in current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before the latter gets too close to China.
Japanese people on a transport vessel take a last look at Manchuria, spring 1945. The Japanese government previously made many nice promises to encourage them to migrate to Manchuria, only for Japan to lose the war and dash the dream. Japan’s painful experience in Manchuria also became important material for Japanese literature and film after the war.

[Photo story] The fate of Japanese POWs and civilians in China after World War II

During the Japanese occupation of China in World War II, the Japanese government encouraged the people of Japan to migrate to China, where they were accorded many privileges as first-grade citizens. But when Japan eventually lost the war, these people found themselves cut adrift in an instant, neither belonging to China nor tied to Japan, especially the children born during the war. Many suffered and even lost their lives as the Soviet army put them into concentration camps and took retaliatory action. Some Japanese still remember the magnanimous policies of the Chiang Kai-Shek government, which arranged at the time for Japanese POWs and other Japanese to be repatriated back to Japan. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao presents photos of the period.