Strengthening Democracy through Power of Words
2016 / 09 / 30
The 12th Tokyo-Beijing Forum drew to a close in Tokyo on Sept. 28 after adopting what organizers named the "Tokyo Consensus," which called on the governments of Japan and China to promptly introduce a maritime-air communication mechanism to avert an unforeseen incident involving warships and warplanes of the two countries.
The joint statement also said that the forum will set up a permanent venue for dialogue specifically focusing on security issues to deepen discussions between Japan and China on the creation of a new security system to ensure peace in this part of the world.
The text of the Tokyo Consensus was read by Yasushi Kudo, president of The Genron NPO, a Japanese not-for-profit independent think tank, toward the end of the second-day plenary session of the annual workshop. Its translation in Chinese was also read by a simultaneous interpreter to the participants.
The document said in part that "private-sector" dialogue has a particular role to play in surmounting difficulties in government-to-government negotiations.
"We have reached an agreement that the causes, which should be pursued by the two countries in the future, are 'peace' and 'cooperation and development,' as well as 'broad-ranging exchanges in the private sector,'" it said.
During the plenary session moderated by Yang Bojiang, vice director of the Institute of Japanese Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Yao Yunzhu, director emeritus of the Center on China-American Defense Relations, the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, delivered a keynote speech.
Based on the experience of establishing a communication mechanism between the defense authorities of China and the United States, Yao proposed that Japan and China begin with the creation of a crisis management setup to avert an unforeseen incident involving military aircraft and vessels.
According to Yao, the mechanism should consist of a "hot line" and regular consultations between the defense authorities of both governments, and a code of behavior for officers of the air and naval forces in case of an emergency.
The retired major general also proposed that China and Japan should expand the sphere of cooperation between their military forces in United Nations-initiated peacekeeping operations abroad, like the anti-piracy operations under way in the Gulf of Aden in Somalia, and further into cyberspace and space exploration.
Terming the "Freedom of Navigation" campaign in the South China Sea as a U.S. plot to impose its military influence in the area, Yao urged Japan not to join hands with the United States in dealing with the territorial issues in that sea, adding that Japan is not a "stakeholder" in the issue.
"We are aware of the Japanese concerns about the security of sea lanes in the South China Sea as its lifeline through which massive quantities of crude oil, materials and merchandise reach Japanese shores. China assures Japan that vessels there will continue to enjoy undisrupted passage," she said.
Yang was followed by Yoriko Kawaguchi, a former Japanese foreign minister and currently a professor at Meiji University, who said in her keynote remarks that Asia, and the world at large, need to create a new common framework of thought, the way Buddhism did in ancient times to spread to India, Nepal, China, Korea and Japan by incorporating local religion, culture and tradition.
"As has been the case to date, a peaceful environment will be the requisite for economic growth and development in this region, and to this end, Japan-China collaboration must be realized on a stable basis," Kawaguchi insisted.
The former foreign minister also said that both neighbors should better look at their bilateral relations more objectively from a global perspective and strive to share a common vision for the future.
The next speaker, Fu Chengyu, former chairman of China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, said that the largest reason for the stagnation in Japan-China economic and business relations is the inability of Japanese businesses to adapt to the dramatic changes in the Chinese economy and market. "Once, major urban cities in China were flooded with Japanese cars. Today, they have been replaced by European cars, for instance," he said.
Echoing the shift in Chinese consumer needs from goods to services, the non-manufacturing sectors account for 56.2 percent of China's gross domestic product, according to Fu.
Putting aside political issues, Chinese consumers long for Japanese goods, Fu said, urging Japanese businesses to devour the benefits of China's economic growth more aggressively.
The final keynote speaker, Takeshi Noda, a veteran member of the House of Representatives, said that current Japan-China relations just echo the changes in the international situation after the end of the Cold War, marked by a decline in U.S. prowess and a rise in nationalism all over the world.
"Like it or not, China is a superpower, economically and politically. Nobody doubts it. And such being the case, China should learn from Japan's failure," he said.
According to Noda, Japan grew to be the world's No. 2 power but got bloated with pride and plunged into a long period of stagnation from which it is still struggling to escape.
"As a superpower, China's top leaders and ordinary people must learn how to behave. Self-restraint is the key. Be humble, have a calm and assured attitude, do not oppress the weak, and do not be too aggressive. This is the essence of bushido (the way of the samurai), which I believe is a crystallization of Buddhism and Confucianism, both of which were imported from China and blended with Japanese Shintoism," Noda concluded.
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