Editorial: 40 years after peace treaty, Japan and China need ‘no-war’ pledge

August 11 , 2018

Tomorrow, August 12, marks the 40th anniversary of the peace and friendship treaty signed by Japan and China.

Consisting of a total of five articles, the treaty is based on the joint statement signed for the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries by Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka on his visit to China and Premier Zhou Enlai of the People’s Republic of China on September 29, 1972.

Given the joint statement’s call in Article 1 for lasting peace and friendship, Komeito has long striven to improve bilateral ties founded on a mutual pledge to forgo war with one another as an instrument of state.

The reality, of course, has been painfully different—as attested by ongoing tensions over territoriality and historical perspective issues between Beijing and Tokyo.

The bilateral dispute reached a new low from 2012, when the administration led by then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda moved to nationalize the Senkaku Islands (which was privately owned at the time) over China’s fierce objection. Since then, a number of near-misses have occurred, including a Chinese naval vessel activating its radar to

And tensions would have most likely continued to escalate had it not been for Komeito’s steady, unswerving effort to improve ties.

Take, for example, the maritime and air communication mechanism (MACM)—a system to lessen and avert accidental military flashpoints between the two nations’ armed forces—that went into effect this year. When Komeito Chief Representative Natsuo Yamaguchi visited China in 2013, he personally appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was then general secretary of the communist party, to establish such a protocol. Komeito’s persistence, not only with Beijing but also the administration led by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, would pay off five years later, when it was formally adopted in June 2018.

The significance of MACM, explains Yamaguchi, goes beyond its intended purpose—it brings meaningful substance to the very spirit of the Japan-China peace and friendship treaty. Article 3 of that treaty--which calls for the further development of economic and cultural relations, as well promoting bilateral exchange on a citizens’ level—is another realm in which Komeito seeks genuine progress.

With China eclipsing Japan as an economic superpower, it has begun expanding its influence in Asia through such infrastructure development initiatives as building roads and railways. As such, Tokyo and Beijing are reportedly gathering private enterprises from both countries for the first-ever discussion to take place in September on holding joint economic activities to support third-party host countries. Our party welcomes such moves and endorses additional initiatives of this kind going forward.

Komeito is planning to dispatch a delegation to China this autumn. These and other cooperative ventures are sure to be discussed in other to facilitate a new era of Japan-China friendship and peace.