Provisional Translation

Address by Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono
During His Visit to the People's Republic of China

Seeking a True Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation

30 August 2000 at 10:30
Venue: Central Party School of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China

1. Opening

It is a singular honor for me to have an opportunity today to express my views on the relations between Japan and China at this esteemed Central Party School, renowned as the most distinguished training institute for the leaders of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to President Hu Jintao, Vice President Zhang Bijian and all the others whose efforts have made this possible.

I understand that the Central Party School is one of the most dynamic fora within China for liberal and honest exchange of views. Therefore, I shall seek to avoid sugar-coated remarks. Instead, I intend to state my true views as a Japanese politician. I hope that you will understand these as a manifestation of my earnest feelings of how important the relations between Japan and China are.

2. Japan and China: The Present Situation and Challenges We Face

In 1972, under the great decisiveness and guidance of our Leaders at the time, Japan and China achieved the normalization of relations. Looking back now I recall how as a young parliamentarian in my thirties I found myself supporting that normalization amidst a whirlwind of fierce debate that raged throughout our nation.

In the 28 years since then, together we have made ceaseless efforts to build stable relations of friendship and cooperation while overcoming the differences in our systems and the various issues remaining from past history. I have long since believed that development in China, a major power in this region, is a cornerstone for the peace and stability in the region, and that as such, cooperating for the development of China is in line with the national interests of Japan. On the whole, each year current relations between Japan and China have tended to expand across all indices - trade, investment, exchanges of people and others, leading to increasing interdependence. Moreover, the Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development and the 33 cooperative projects agreed upon in 1998 on the occasion of the visit to Japan by President Jiang Zemin were accelerated following the visit last year to China by former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and continue to realize even further steady advances through the joint work undertaken by Japan and China since then. Seen as such, I believe that it is clear to all that Japan-China relations are as a whole flowing significantly in the right direction.

Still, frankly speaking, it is also true that much remains for us to accomplish if we are to further build the sense of trust between Japan and China.

I believe the reality is that against the background of various issues that arise from time to time in Japan-China relations, the peoples of our two nations still do not know each other very well.

For example, with regard to the language relating to China in this year's Defense of Japan, the annual report of the Japanese Defense Agency, I have been informed that many Chinese media reports have expressed concerns about Japan's "military expansion" and "revival of militarism." Furthermore, I understand that there has been criticism in China that the joint technological research on ballistic missile defense (BMD) which Japan is advancing with the United States in order to respond to new missile threats will have an adverse effect on regional stability, even though no decision has been taken on whether to proceed with development and deployment in the future. Moreover, from time to time some statements of a tiny minority of Japanese people regarding issues of past history have engendered distrust of Japan among the people of China.

Still, we would do best to remember the old adage that "A picture is worth a thousand words." Anyone who has actually come to Japan and lived there knows that the people of Japan, too, were themselves victims of militarism. Indeed, nobody in Japan could ever allow the revival of nationalism there. It is with unshakeable conviction that I tell you this. With its defence policy exclusively devoted to defence, it is utterly unfathomable to conceive that Japan would ever engage in competitive military expansion in Asia with China which currently enjoy friendly relations.

I believe that Japan's perception of past history was clearly set out in the Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama issued, following a Cabinet Decision, on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II. As a member of the Cabinet, I participated in the drafting of that Statement. The spirit contained therein has been carried forth by successive administrations and is now the common view of the large number of Japanese people.

At the same time, the current situation regarding the possession of missiles and increasing year by year military expenditure by China - demonstrated both at home and abroad by the commemorative parade held last year to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China - have raised deep concern among Japanese people. Indeed, some in Japan point to these developments to support their view that China is a threat. Additionally, media reports state that it is virtually unknown to the people of China that Japan provides more than 30 billion yuan in economic cooperation to China each year, and that such assistance is not properly appreciated - a matter that causes bewilderment among the people of Japan.

The Japanese people so strongly hope that the people of China can better understand how things really are in Japan. Similarly, I suppose that the Chinese people also have the feeling that Japanese people do not understand them, and want their country and themselves to be better understood by us Japanese.

It is essential for us to understand each other and to cooperate together. To this end too, I believe that we must encourage greater dynamism in exchanges among all sectors of our societies irrespective of specific positions or ways of thinking. We cannot deepen mutual understanding without active exchanges, and mutual trust cannot thrive where there is no mutual understanding. As President Jiang Zemin stated in May in his keynote address on Japan-China relations, friendship between Japan and China ultimately amounts to friendship between our peoples, and is in the interest of our peoples. In this sense, I view the recent decision to allow Chinese tourist groups to visit Japan as a step forward and a major stride toward enhancing mutual understanding between Japan and China. I believe that efforts must be made so that we can further expand these programmes smoothly.

On the occasion of the visit to Japan by President Jiang Zemin in 1998, agreement was reached on mutual exchanges of the young people who will shoulder the responsibility of our nations in the future. In line with this goal, in May of this year Culture and Tourism Exchange Missions totaling more than 5,000 people visited China from Japan, where they were warmly welcomed by President Jiang Zemin and the people of China. Furthermore, during that same month of May, around one hundred Chinese high school students visited Japan, some of whom I had the opportunity to meet with directly. I was pleasantly surprised at the high level of interest in Japan on the part of the young generation of China. Given the growth of the Internet, we cannot ignore the speed at which information and knowledge are spreading among the young generation. I firmly believe in the importance of enhancing exchanges among many people, including our youths, so that we are able to clearly perceive our respective nations for who we are.

In 1972, after succeeding in the great undertaking of the normalization of relations between Japan and China, Premier Zhou Enlai stated, "The peoples of China and Japan are both great peoples, and the peoples of both China and Japan must see to it that their children and grandchildren live in friendship." In response, Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka stated, "We sincerely hope to forge relations as a good neighbor of the great nation of China and of her people, and we hope that our two nations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of Asia and of the world." The normalization of relations between Japan and China that our predecessors achieved was realized from a firmly rooted perspective and was based on a foundation of respect for each other's nations and people. The essential core of the normalization exists in the Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China.

I can unequivocally state that the Government of Japan has maintained a non-governmental practical relationship with Taiwan in accordance with the Japan-China Joint Communique. The Taiwan issue, as you in China also urge, must be resolved peacefully through dialogue among the parties concerned. The peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are critically important to the interests of Japan, and the Government and people of Japan consistently has a strong hope for a resolution to the Taiwan issue. Therefore, it is our ardent wish that the currently suspended dialogue between both sides of the Taiwan Strait be resumed as soon as possible.

In his May keynote address on Japan-China relations, President Jiang Zemin stated, "Good-neighborly friendship is the mainstream of relations between our peoples." Now is indeed the time for us to re-embrace this spirit so that we do not lose sight of that great flow. I firmly believe that as long as the great trunk of the friendly relations between Japan and China remains firm, the tree as a whole will never quiver, whatever winds may strike its leaves or branches.

3. Building a True Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation Toward the 21st Century

Japan-China relations are founded upon the commitment to conduct annual leaders' mutual visits. Such mutual leaders' visits provide significant opportunities to steadily advance the Japan-China relationship while reaffirming the importance of Japan-China relations. Indeed, the respective visits to Japan and China by President Jiang Zemin and former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi charted a vital course for Japan-China cooperation in the 21st century. This October Japan shall also receive Premier Zhu Rongji for an official visit. I would like to make this upcoming visit by Premier Zhu Rongji to be a key opportunity to give further momentum to Japan-China relations toward the 21st century.

Taking into account Premier Zhu Rongji's visit to Japan, I would like to make the following proposals to further deepen and broaden Japan-China relations.

First, as I mentioned earlier, it is necessary for Japan and China to squarely confront the issues that often loom before us. To this end, there is inherent importance in recognizing and respecting our differences while deepening understanding of the fundamental components of each other's state affairs. Such an attitude would fall perfectly into line with Premier Zhou Enlai's oft-quoted expression that we should "cast aside our minor differences and work on the substance." In addition to the active exchange I have already spoken about, I believe that we should make the following efforts as the first strides toward building further relationships of trust.

(1) To begin, we must promptly establish and cement in place a mechanism for nipping in the bud the specific individual issues arising between Japan and China. In this context, recently there have been many media reports in Japan that Chinese marine research vessels and naval vessels have unilaterally stepped up their activities in the seas around Japan. These have sparked widespread concerns among our people, leading to strong reactions. Activities of the Chinese navy including appearances of naval vessels near Japanese territorial waters, circumnavigation of our nation, and information gathering by vessels passing through the Tsugaru Straits between the main Japanese island of Honshu and Hokkaido has called upon much attention in Japan. I am concerned that such actions can only have an adverse effect on Japan-China relations as a whole. However, I do believe that the agreement between myself and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tang Jiaxuan to set up a framework for mutual notification of marine research vessels is a meaningful step forward in the right direction. We can indeed say that the work to establish a hotline between the Japanese and Chinese leaders, for which preparations are already underway, is grounded in such a concept.

The success of such an early management mechanism will no doubt depend considerably on the efforts of both countries' diplomatic authorities, which will be at the forefront of the work. But there is an additional need for the governments as a whole, moreover the countries as a whole, to strive to make maximum use of multifaceted and diverse channels. In order to promote such collaborated efforts by government and private sectors I propose that Japanese and Chinese think tanks, with the participation of government officials, promptly launch deliberations on this to establish early management mechanism.

(2) Another bilateral issue that I must address is the issue of economic assistance. Over the last 20 years Japan has supported China's open reform policy through the provision of official development assistance (ODA). There will be no change in such basic stance in the future. We believe that the development of China is indispensable for ensuring the peace and prosperity of not only the Asia-Pacific region, but also the world. As I mentioned earlier, however, an array of discussion is taking place in Japan on the modalities for Japan's economic cooperation toward China. The implementation of economic cooperation to China in the future hinges more than ever upon receiving the full understanding and support of both the Japanese and Chinese peoples. As such, in July this year Japan established a discussion panel comprising opinion leaders across all sectors of society, which is scheduled to provide recommendation by the end of this year on the modalities for future economic cooperation to China. Based on this recommendation and other elements, Japan will formulate by the end of this fiscal year an assistance program for China. In the course of such an undertaking, we would like to conduct exchanges of views with relevant parties on the Chinese side.

My second proposal concerns looking at Japan-China relations from an Asia-Pacific and global perspective. As we approach the 21st century, we should place further emphasis on Japan-China cooperation also in the area of multilateral relations. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to make the following three proposals in this context.

(1) First, in order to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia, I propose the creation of a framework for dialogue among the relevant countries in Northeast Asia. Today, as increased opportunities emerge for seeking peace and development in the region, centering around the Korean Peninsula, we see new potential for strengthening the framework for dialogue in the Northeast Asian region, which to date has not sufficiently established such a framework. I believe that a flexible and realistic approach would be most appropriate in creating a framework for dialogue. For example, one idea that Japan has espoused in the past is to convene a six-party meeting adding the Republic of Korea and North Korea to Japan, the United States, China and Russia. Indeed, the strengthening of Japan-US-China and Japan-China-Republic of Korea trilateral dialogues could also have a place in such a move. To ensure that such dialogue can play a useful role in promoting confidence-building in Northeast Asia, it must be advanced fully taking into account the intentions of the relevant countries while strengthening the activities of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). I favor taking a flexible approach to the content of the dialogue, beginning with areas that are comparatively easy to address, such as environment, economies and human resources exchange, keeping in perspective the potential move to a comprehensive dialogue in future that would also embrace the field of politics.

(2) Second, I propose that Japan and China collaborate together to actively contribute toward sustainable economic development in Asia. In this context, cooperation toward improving the environment in the Asian region assumes paramount importance. Japan and China are at present steadily moving ahead with the Japan-China Model City Project for Environmental Development in Dalian, Chong Qing, Guiyang, in order to reduce the air pollution by conducting projects such as acid rain prevention. Japan and China are also preparing to put into practice the Environmental Information Network that will create network in 100 cities in China. Cooperation in the area of environment is not merely confined to Japan-China bilateral efforts. In fact, trilateral Japan-China-Republic of Korea Environment Ministers' Meetings have been held twice already with the participation of the Republic of Korea, with meaningful exchanges of views taking place on how to move forward with trilateral cooperation. Further, There is the Eurasian Land-Bridge project, being developed for the purpose of establishing a transport and physical distribution network stretching from East to Central Asia. It is also hugely significant that Japan and China make a future-oriented cooperation toward this grandiose project, and contribute to the development of East to Central Asia as a whole. There are a considerable number of areas in which bilateral cooperation can be undertaken, including energy, infrastructure, telecommunications and tourism. With the development of the Mekong River Basin already underway, Japan and China could also promote economic development by working together in multilateral frameworks centering around the Asian Development Bank.

In order to deepen relations between the two countries, I believe it would be most effective to fully cooperate in the pursuit of a common goal. The same goes for people-to-people relations. In the days of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Murayama, there were times when Japan's relations with the Republic of Korea were slightly strained, but at that time in my capacity as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, I proposed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, "Let us do something together. Both of our countries could hold the football World Cup and participate jointly in the bidding for the event."

In recent times, dramatic improvements have been witnessed in Japan-Republic of Korea relations, brought about through the efforts of all people involved and the leaders of Japan and the Republic of Korea, including those of President Kim Dae Jung. The decision to jointly hold the World Cup provided the opportunity to further strengthen friendly relations on a people-to-people level and has undoubtedly led to the flowering of relations between the two countries as a whole.

(3) Finally I would like to make some proposals for Japan-China cooperation in relation to global challenges that transcend regions.

Currently economic globalization is bringing the world economy into one fold, and as a result of this effect, it has come to be to the benefit of all countries to see to it that the framework for the world economy, founded on market mechanisms is maintained and further developed. China is to accede to the WTO shortly, and the reason behind the strong support of the Japanese government for China's entry into the organization is because we believe it to be an important step in the midst of a world economy that is undergoing great changes. With regard to China's WTO accession, Japan has concluded bilateral negotiations, and also considering providing technical assistance to China regarding establishing of domestic legal framework.

Concerning the issue of the global environment, including climate change, China, which continues on a path of rapid modernization, has an important role to acquit. Although there are differences in position concerning global environmental issues between Japan and China, but in overcoming these differences, together both Japan and China can make an active contribution.

In addition, in cooperation with China in the area of advanced technology, through intellectual exchange in such fields as Information and Communications Technology (IT), we would like for Asia to demonstrate its power in this area to the entire world. Minister Tang mentioned during this trip that the cooperation between Japan and China will be beneficial not only to both Japan and China, but also to the growth of the world economy. I am exactly of the same view.

For the sake of world peace, arms control, arms reduction and non-proliferation are issues that can never be neglected and in this area I would like to further strengthen Japan-China dialogue and cooperation. It is of the utmost significance that at the NPT Review Conference held this spring, complete agreement was reached on realistic nuclear arms reduction measures, including a clear commitment on the total elimination of all nuclear weapons. In order to bring this commitment to fruition, the early ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is of paramount importance. To this end, it is essential that China, which signed the CTBT at an early stage, ratify the CTBT as early as possible, and produce a trend for ratification in a global scale. Furthermore, it is of vital necessity that in the United States-Russia Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) negotiations, further nuclear arms reductions are undertaken, and that other nuclear powers, including China, make efforts to reduce their nuclear arsenals unilaterally or through a process of negotiation. Concerning National Missile Defense (NMD), although there are those who point out that there are countries which are newly pursuing nuclear and missile development, there are also other people with the contradictory opinion that if they were to overlook NMD deployment, their nuclear strategy would be decisively disadvantaged. However, I emphasize the overwhelming importance of steering away from enhancing military power and seeking resolution through intensive discussions.

The United Nations is a vital receptacle for global issues. Both Japan and China share the conviction that the United Nations must never be a loser. In this context an issue of pressing urgency is the reform of the United Nations, in particular the reform of the Security Council. I also feel that it is iven more important for both of our nations to ensure that developing countries' opinions be reflected in order to realize the United Nations reform. For the United Nations to lose its legitimacy and effectiveness would be unthinkable. Japan's entry as a permanent member of the Security Council should be debated not merely as a goal in itself, but from the viewpoint of strengthening the Security Council. I hope that there is no misunderstanding on this issue.

Furthermore, looking out across the world, ethnic and regional conflicts continue to break out frequently, and we are also perceiving how deep-rooted these confrontations are. In the 21st century we must advance dialogue among countries and civilizations with different cultural, linguistic and social backgrounds in a spirit of sensitivity and tolerance. Japan recognizes the importance of preventing conflict prior to its occurrence and advocates strongly the necessity to foster a "culture of prevention". I believe that in such areas lies considerable potential for cooperation between Japan and China.

4. Conclusion

I became a politician in 1967. Since beginning my journey along the political path, I have exerted utmost efforts - indeed made it my mission as a politician - to build stable and friendly relations with China, one of Japan's most important neighbors.

We have entered the final few months of the 20th century and surrounded as our two countries are by generational, societal and human changes in a greatly changing environment, I believe we have reached a turning point from where we should return to the origins of our relations and once again seriously contemplate Japan-China relations.

It is said that, "Those who quarrel from time to time are true friends." I feel that from now we are entering a period where at times frank exchange of honest sentiments may lead to sharp exchanges of words, but we must have the readiness of mind to deal with these situations with mutual understanding and persuasion. Although my uncle Kenzo Kono did at times enter into fierce exchanges with members of the Chinese leadership, he made many friends in doing so and created many long-lasting and firm friendships.

If my speech today has been somewhat different in tone to speeches made by the leaders of our countries heretofore, I hope you will understand that it is because the content has been based on my deep contemplation of Japan-China relations as set out above and my powerful belief in the friendly relations between Japan and China.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

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