Japan-China Relations: Issues and Prospects (Video Interview with Akio Takahara) – Part 1 of 2

Memo #253

Featuring Akio Takahara

Recently the Asia Pacific Memo sat down with Dr. Akio Takahara, Professor in the Graduate School of Law and Politics at the University of Tokyo and a recognized authority on contemporary Chinese politics, international relations in East Asia, and Japan-China relations in particular.

In this first part of a two-part video memo, Dr. Takahara discusses the key dynamics behind the current Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute, the role education plays in fashioning public sentiment in China and Japan, the recent leadership change in China and its implications for Japan-China relations, and offers thoughts on avoiding any worst-case scenario regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute.

The Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute is not new. Rather, it has emerged to the forefront in the context of the growth of Chinese power and influence in the region. But the island dispute is not simply one between state authorities, with the public on both sides becoming impassioned over the ownership issue. Education plays a key role in fashioning public sentiment on both sides, and Dr. Takahara comments on the role education has traditionally played and continues to play in both China and Japan and the ways education could be improved across the East China Sea to enhance mutual understanding.

Finally, Dr. Takahara comments on the transfer of power in China to Xi Jinping, noting that the Chinese leadership seems to be putting nationalism a bit more to the fore, and so will likely not alter its current stance towards Japan, particularly regarding the island dispute.

Though the Senkaku/Diaoyu controversy certainly invites the contemplation of worst-case scenarios—such as the ratcheting up of rhetoric leading to a potential military skirmish—Dr. Takahara identifies areas of hope and promise for increasing cooperation and understanding between China and Japan. Watch for part two of this video memo, in which Dr. Takahara will look at these bright spots of cooperation while also discussing the academic gap that separates the Chinese from the Japanese understanding of more recent history, and the islands controversy in particular.

Japan-China Relations: Issues and Prospects (Part 1 of 2) (5:32 minutes)

Akio Takahara is presently the Secretary-General of the “New Japan-China Friendship Committee for the 21st Century,” a senior researcher at the Tokyo Foundation, and an adjunct fellow of the Japan Institute of International Affairs.

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