Academic Scholarship

Ripe for Cooperation or Rivalry? Commerce, Realpolitik, and War Memory in Contemporary Sino-Japanese Relations

Asian Security, 4(2) 162- 197., May 2008

Asian Security Yinan He, Ph.D
School of Diplomacy and International Relations

Sino-Japanese political relations, fraught with disputes and tension during the Koizumi years, only began to recover after Abe came to power. This article investigates the driving forces shaping recent and future bilateral relations. Using evidence from the Koizumi era, I argue that 1) bilateral commercial links prove a weak stabilizing factor for political relations; 2) the current distribution of power between China and Japan does not dictate their strategic rivalry, but they may still treat each other as rivals if they perceive the danger of long-term power transition and mutual hostile intent; 3) the frequent flare-up of bilateral history disputes can exacerbate mutual threat perceptions among elites and generate popular emotional pressure for hard-line government policy toward the other country. The future of Sino-Japanese cooperation heavily depends on their efforts to resolve the negative historical legacy.


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