Japan's frictions with neighbors have resurfaced after a group of 168 Japanese lawmakers on Tuesday paid their respects at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which glorifies war-dead including those guilty of atrocities. It was the first time in eight years that a group of over 100 Japanese politicians visited the shrine. On the same day, a fleet of Chinese marine surveillance vessels drove Japanese boats out of waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands, thwarting the provocative attempts of around 80 Japanese right wingers.
The South Korean government has issued a strongly worded complaint over the Japanese politicians' visit to the shrine. China and South Korea have shown their shared outrage over the Yasukuni Shrine issue, but Japan seems to have disregarded this.
There are not many extreme right wingers in Japan, but Japanese society has still been tilting further toward right-wing views.
These days, provocations have been coming from Japan's deputy prime minister, a group of over 100 lawmakers and the right wingers creating waves over the Diaoyu Islands issue.
The Chinese government is taking the lead in dealing with Japan. However, it has little leverage when dealing with various forces within Japan. This reality cannot be changed in the near future. This means the Chinese government's stance has to be tough. Chinese marine surveillance vessels have done a pretty good job on this occasion. Since the Diaoyu crisis broke out last year, the tough resistance of the Chinese government against Japan has made it the main force in safeguarding the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands.
The latest situation involving the Diaoyu Islands has demonstrated the contrast in terms of strength between China and Japan as well as the changing East Asia strategic arena.
The Yasukuni Shrine visits are evidence of Japan's reluctance to accept reality. Japanese society is becoming increasingly radical, but continues to take a careful approach in maritime conflicts with China.
Japan lacks a clear strategy in East Asia. Encountering China's rise, it hasn't formed a policy that helps it maximize its interests, and instead shows resentment and anxiety. Its alliance with the US cannot help it solve its own strategic dilemma.
The gradual decline in Japan's power is the reason for its lack of confidence.
Japan is like a marijuana smoker, who enjoys the excitement of the moment but is ultimately damaging itself at the same time. Japan will fall by itself. China doesn't need to launch fierce counterattacks. Instead, it can just express its firm stance to make Japan feel scared.
China needs to create diplomatic leverage over Japan, which could help it express its determination when dealing with issues related to sovereignty and historical matters, and bring the Sino-Japanese conflict under control. - Global Times
Japan shrine visit angers South Korea
South Korea has abruptly cancelled a trip to Tokyo by its foreign minister in protest at visits to a controversial war shrine over the weekend by Japanese cabinet ministers, including the deputy prime minister.
Visits to the Yasukuni shrine – which honours 14 class-A war criminals among 2.5 million other Japanese war dead – have traditionally angered China and South Korea, which view the site as a symbol of Japanese militarism.
Four ministers in the conservative administration of Shinzo Abe paid visits to the shrine, including his finance minister, Taro Aso.
The separate visits, to mark the beginning of the shrine's annual spring festival, come amid tensions with China over a longstanding territorial dispute in the East China sea.
Beijing did not immediately respond but South Korea said on Monday that its foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, would not be making a two-day visit to Tokyo due to begin this Friday.
"Amid this kind of atmosphere our stance is that it will be difficult to hold a productive discussion and Yun decided not to visit to Japan this time," an unnamed South Korean official told the Yonhap news agency.
Abe did not visit the shrine but sent a decorative branch of a cypress tree as a ritual offering, with his name and title written beneath, according to media reports.
China is unlikely to overlook the visit while the two rivals continue to stake rival claims to the Senkaku islands, known as the Diaoyu in China.
For many in China and South Korea, visits to Yasukuni in central Tokyo are proof that Japan's modern leaders have yet to atone for their country's military misadventures on the Asian mainland in the first half of the 20th century.
Despite his nationalist leanings Abe did not visit during his previous year-long premiership from 2006 to avoid inflaming opinion in Beijing and Seoul.
He later said he regretted the decision and with his popularity ratings high at home speculation is mounting that he may be less willing to consider sensibilities in China and South Korea, particularly if his party wins key upper house elections in July, giving it control of both Diet chambers.
Aso, who also serves as deputy prime minister, has a reputation for angering Japan's neighbours; in 2003, he praised the country's 1910-1945 colonisation of the Korean peninsula and has refused to apologise for his family firm's past use of Korean forced labourers and allied prisoners of war.
Aso, a former prime minister, wants class-A war criminals "delisted" from Yasukuni, thereby removing the biggest obstacle to members of the imperial family resuming their annual visits.
On Sunday, he bowed in the Shinto shrine's worship hall and left without speaking to reporters.
The other visitors included Keiji Furuya, a state minister in charge of resolving the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea during the cold war. "It is natural for a lawmaker to offer heartfelt condolences for spirits of the war dead who sacrificed their lives for the nation," he said.
Abe visited the shrine in 2012 while leader of the then main opposition Liberal Democratic party, drawing criticism from China.
In late March, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the objections over Yasukuni centred on a desire for Japan to "face up to and reflect on its history of aggression and respect the feelings of people from the victimised countries, including China". -