Three years ago the Democrats broke off the half-century monopolistic rule of the liberals. During three years, three Democratic prime ministers gave place to each other. Meanwhile, each of them managed to worsen relations with some of Japan’s close neighbors. As a result, Japan finally fell out with South Korea over the disputed islands of Tokto - Takeshima. And it happened on the day of the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from the Japanese militarists. On the day of the 40th anniversary of the normalization of the Sino-Japanese ties, Beijing and Tokyo cancelled all festivities, as they were arguing over the Diaoyu - Senkaku Islands. It resulted in anti-Japanese demonstrations and riots in Chinese cities.
Shinzo Abe is bound to correct obvious errors in the diplomacy of the Democrats. He has already stated that at the beginning of the new year he will send his representative to China. The Prime Minister himself will pay his first foreign visit to the United States. But the question remains: will these missions ease tensions in the relationships between Tokyo and Beijing and in the triangle of Japan-US-China?
For the first time in history, after Shinzo Abe’s victory at the elections, the parties used such an argument as aviation in their dispute over the Islands in the East China Sea. Tuesday, Tokyo scrambled its fighters after radars detected a Chinese oceanographic service’s airplane approaching the Diaoyu Islands.
In addition, Tokyo announced its intention to bring a group of officials to the Senkaku Islands in order to exercise control over this land. How effective will the visit of Shinzo Abe’s representative to China in this context be, and will it be carried out at all? Despite all this, Vladimir Portyakov, expert of the Institute of the Far East, does not exclude that on conditions of a mutual desire the parties may see light at the end of the tunnel:
“My projection goes as follows: the parties will try to ease the tensions somehow. Shinzo Abe is the right person for this. It is rather difficult to find a specific formula, because the issue has gone too far. But it is necessary to search for solutions. Both parties should be calmer when approaching this problem. They need to improve their relations, because their infamous variance has put more serious things open to question. For instance, the creation of a closer integration with South Korea, which free trade zone can generally change the geography of the global economy. And it is a far more serious weight on the scales, than the issue of the Islands”.
This equally applies to the tensions between Tokyo and Seoul, although the positions of the parties about the islands are uncompromising. South Korea has already sent a signal to Shinzo Abe that they control Tokto. If the new Prime Minister gives way to Seoul without a fight, he will get the first serious blow to his chair from both his political opponents, and his voters.
The United States failed to convince the Democratic party of Japan to postpone its territorial dispute with South Korea in order not to undermine the triple military alliance. Will Barack Obama be able to get this problem moving at the Washington meeting with Shinzo Abe in January? Experts would not predict.
0Meanwhile, another issue is already clear: partnership with Washington will make it difficult for Shinzo Abe to build new relations with China. In anticipation of his visit the US Congress has prepared a generous gift. The United States reiterated its support to Japan in case of a threat to its security due to the territorial dispute over the Diaoyu Islands. China has already announced its resolute protest.