Monday, April 18, 2005

Bad Blood

I'm overdue to post something on the ongoing tiff between China and Japan which is being followed very closely by a certain member of my household. Japan has never repudiated the atrocities they committed in WWII the way Germany has and this has been a continuing source of tension between Japan and Korea (North and South) and China. While post-war Japan has emerged as a major donor nation, with much of their contributions targeted to nations harmed by them in the war, they have been careful to characterize those payments as donations rather than reparations, and Japan has consistently glossed over their wartime atrocities in their textbooks and historical accounts. China and Japan have never been particularly close, and this insult is one that China is not willing to drop. The recent discussions of UN reform, with the strong possibility of Japan gaining a permanent Security Council post, has brought things to a head. Japan does need to own up to their past, but I'm not sure the U.S. will care to push that point. Tension between the two nations hardly hurts us, allowing the U.S. to act as mediator, deepening Japan's dependence on the U.S. for military and diplomatic support, and strengthening U.S. influence in the region. It will be interesting to see if they can move past this, as China and Japan could both profit greatly in many regards from closer ties. The pull of profit seems to be slowly healing old wounds between China and Taiwan, and it may do the same between China and Japan.

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