April 11, 2007

Civil Obedience


This cartoon was originally posted on April 17, 2005 (on the occasion of Chinese protests against Japan), and it is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our latest book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

From TIME: Japan and China: Is the Ice Breaking? by Bryan Walsh.

China is usually the first nation to protest any perceived backsliding by Japan on its acceptance of guilt for World War II abuses. So it was notable that not a peep came out of Beijing last month over the international furor ignited by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's denial that Japan's wartime army had forced tens of thousands of Asian women into sexual slavery. Beijing's diplomatic silence much appreciated in Tokyo was the latest sign of an unexpected thaw in the two nations' often troubled relationship.

Japanese diplomats who could barely talk to their Chinese counterparts a year ago say communication has never been better, and on Wednesday, Tokyo welcomes Premier Wen Jiabao for a three-day stay that will be the first high-level Chinese visit to Japan in nearly seven years. ...

Despite the strains and the rivalry dating back millennia today's China-Japan relationship is held together by an overwhelming imperative: business.

Even when ties were at their frostiest over Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni [a Shinto memorial to Japan's war dead viewed by many nations as an irredeemable symbol of Japanese imperialism] and the response of Chinese protestors, economic ties continued to strengthen last year, bilateral trade passed $200 billion, and China will soon become Japan's top trading partner. ...

Public opinion in both countries is not exactly fueling a thaw: A recent survey on college campuses in both countries found that 46% of students in Japan and 57% in China held a negative view of the other country, while over 80% of both characterized Japan-China relations as "bad." ...

In China, the simmering sense of humiliation over Japan's wartime atrocities can unleash waves of public rage with the least provocation. And should Abe eventually give in to his conservative political base and visit Yasukuni, the reaction from China would be swift and angry. "That is the worst scenario," says Kokubun. "The relationship between the two countries might end up worse than it was before."

Posted by Forkum at April 11, 2007 07:14 PM