Anti-Japanese demonstrations continue to rage across China over the Senkaku Islands dispute. And now, like a violent typhoon making landfall at spring tide, Japan's relationship with China faces a perfect storm on Sept. 18.
The day marks the 81st anniversary of the Liutiaohu Incident, which led to the Japanese invasion and occupation of Manchuria in 1931. Anti-Japanese sentiment in China soars on this day every year.
To make matters worse, the fishing season in the East China Sea opened on Sept. 16. With this past weekend's typhoon now gone, some sources say a huge flotilla of Chinese fishing boats could be expected soon around the disputed islands. Beijing has stressed it will protect the lives and safety of Chinese fishermen. I just hope nobody will try to be a "hero" like the fishing boat captain who rammed Japan Coast Guard vessels two years ago.
As for anti-Japanese demonstrators, they obviously know they will not be punished, no matter how much they act up. These "patriots" can do no wrong, and Chinese law is rather lax on them. Moreover, they seem to understand that the government sees their violent demonstrations as a means for pressuring Japan.
Watching television, I found out that some of these demonstrators can't even place the Senkaku Islands on a map. Apparently it's enough that they memorize anti-Japanese slogans, and the government and the media are egging them on in this.
The situation is infuriating enough, but we in Japan have nothing to gain by getting worked up and reacting in kind.
Due to certain historical issues, the Japan-China relationship has never been very stable. It actually froze up completely during the administration of Junichiro Koizumi, but improved after Premier Wen Jiabao's "ice-melting" visit to Japan in 2007.
But now, in the 40th year since the normalization of diplomatic relations, the mutual animosity is unlike anything in the past four decades.
Obviously, Japan cannot cede sovereignty. But Japan must neither provoke China nor react to China's provocation. It must stay calm and unyielding. The government and the general public alike must retain Japan's dignity as a pacifist nation.
The wise thing to do now is think how best we can win greater support from the rest of the world.
-- The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 18
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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