Improving ties between China and Japan are in the interest of both countries. Behind deep mistrust, the relations need a new jerk to be motivated. These biggest economies - second and the third largest - need to cooperate rather than to compete in a horrible manner. They must look for a good relationship to significantly uplift Asian prosperity. Both countries faces short and long term issues and mutually they would overcome these difficulties no matter how difficult these would be.

Recently, both countries have signed a US$ 29 billion currency swap agreement aiming at the enhancement of nation’s financial outlook. Amid trade tensions with Washington, the two sides signed over 500 business deals with a total value of more than US$ 2.6 billion, ranging from infrastructure, energy and car projects to a currency swap pact.

Their ties have moved from competition to collaboration. Both nations have proved that they needed to be friends and avoid any kind of controversy. Wartime history, territorial disputes in the East China Sea, deep-rooted distrust and hostility, regional competition and the US-Japan military alliance are serious threat to their mutual ties and both nations are careful of that.

In fact relations were much deteriorated between the two after 2010 than at any time in the past. Relations were improved during 1970 and until 2010 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has seen the ups and downs of this relationship and looks more careful at this time. “China and Japan are neighbours and partners, and we will not be a threat to each other,” Abe said.

They also signed more than fifty agreements to work together on infrastructure development in Asia, proof of a Japanese commitment to partner on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). After President Donald Trump has waged a trade war against China, Tokyo has become an essential trading partner of China. Japan possesses sophisticated technology to pass on to China in a competing manner under any trading agreement.

China is a huge emerging market and Japan can play a significant role in it. To some extent, Japan could replace the demand of the United States. The United States has been withdrawing from many multilateral arrangements and this could be beneficial for both China and Japan to keep expanding their mutual technological ties.

The growing conflict between Washington and Beijing also worry Tokyo. Abe’s nationalist tendencies also worries Beijing but now they are above that level and moving toward reconciliation. Much wisdom is needed to overcome differences between Beijing and Tokyo, which is prevailing at this time.

If the relations remain stable, this will serve the basis of interest for the two countries. In the present international situation, China and Japan have become more important; the two countries could alter the international order and look for peace and stability in East Asia.

Beijing would welcome Japan’s involvement in China’s overseas infrastructure projects, “China welcomes Japan to take part in the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’,” Abe said, referring to President Xi Jinping’s signature push to link economies into a China-centred trading network. The BRI has the capacity to lower down Japan and China differences and to build a much common future and tranquillity.

Both nations would like to avoid a trade war. They are more interested in building mutual prosperity and good will. Their common efforts would help promote globalisation at a time of US led trade war and conflict in world politics. With highly complementary economies, China and Japan could be the engine of production for rest of Asian nations.

In two countries relations, Japanese-Chinese collaboration could lead them toward success. Trade between China and Japan reached US$ 300 billion in 2017, making China Japan’s second largest trading partner, while Japan is China’s third biggest. For Japanese companies China is the most suitable place for their investment.

Around 30,000 Japanese firms currently have investments in China that Japanese investment in China has grown to more than US$ 100 billion. This is a highly lucrative business. It is better for Japan to invest in China than to look for any completion or rivalry at the South China Sea or any other theatre.

It is not a good point for Japan to look toward a dispute with China and to ignore the US led fight against China. It is good point to build the economies of East Asia together. Leaders of China and Japan announced they had agreed to boost economic cooperation and not to pose a threat to each other and that they would push for more cooperation on innovation, environmental protection, health, and welfare.

It is in their mutual interest to maintain a long-term stable China-Japan relationship, which is also beneficial to the stability of the region and the world. They should never pose direct aggression against each other and to act like a god neighbours.


The writer is Consultant at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. He writes on

East Asian affairs.