China's strategy to sow distrust of Japan

By Christopher Pokarier

Viewed from China, memories of wartime Japanese aggression, instances of a defiant lack of repentance by some Japanese identities, and conjuring up the spectre of resurgent Japanese militarism would seem the ideal means to stigmatise Japan throughout an Australasia with a shared experience of suffering in the Pacific war.

Only in South Korea, where collective memories of the trauma of Japanese colonialism has been central to legitimating political ideologies since the Korean war, is a large proportion of both elite and popular opinion critical of Japan.

The more trashy elements of Japan's free media increasingly exploit domestic unease about China for commercial gain, although Japanese political leaders don't appear to be boxed in, policy wise, by public opinion in relation to China.

A turning point was when Beijing chose to interpret the September 2012 decision by the left-leaning Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Government of Yoshihiko Noda to purchase three of the Senkaku islands (from a private Japanese owner) as a major escalation of the dispute.

Promoting mutual distrust in the Asia Pacific now appears central to Chinese strategy.  As Hugh White has argued persuasively, China seeks greater influence in Asia through weakening the faith of America's regional allies and partners in US resolve to remain engaged in the region.

Japanese public opinion towards China, for a long time more positive than that felt on the mainland for Japan, has deteriorated dramatically since 2010.

This has been evidenced starkly in Chinese media reaction to Abe's recent visit to Australia and the close and deepening ties affirmed by the Australian and Japanese governments.

Read more here: Business Spectator


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