Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Japan's ODA to China
TAKAI Kiyoshi  / Professor of China studies at Hokkaido University

November 24, 2000
The official visit to Japan of Premier Zhu Ronghni of China in October occasioned an opportunity in Japan to deliberate on how Japan's official development assistance (ODA), including yen-denominated loans, is to be continued to China.

In Japan, there are various positions taken with regard to its ODA to China. Proponents assert that Japan must assist China because the Chinese government refrained from requesting compensations from Japan despite the miseries that Japan inflicted on the Chinese people during World War II. Skeptics wonder what Japan's ODA to China is for, because the Chinese government has hardly informed the Chinese public of the presence of the Japanese aid. Furthermore, there is yet another group of people who are directly opposed to providing large-scale aid to China in light of the sharp increase in China's military spending.

Consequently, in a meeting with Premier Zhu, Japan's Prime Minister Mori told the former that Japan's economic cooperation to China requires the understanding and support of the Japanese people, urging the Chinese Government to further inform Chinese people about Japan's ODA. In response, Premier Zhu also stated that "Japan's ODA has been highly appreciated in China as it has assisted China's economic development and contributed to the promotion of the economic relations between the two countries." He promised to strengthen China's effort to inform people about Japan's ODA. Some quarters of the foreign press reported on these exchanges between the two leaders, commenting that Japan played its ODA card in order to force China to give up its history card. Needless to say, the Chinese history card refers to the Chinese act to put political pressure on Japan by urging the Japanese government to reflect on Japan's past aggression to China and Asia. I believe, however, that this backward-looking line of comment not only simplifies the issue but inflames emotional conflicts between the two nations.

Japan's ODA is based on clearly-stated principles and policies. The Government publishes the ODA White Paper every year, which repeatedly makes known its ODA policies. Among others, the following points are made clear;
That Japan's aid should contribute to the sustainable development of the society and the economy of developing countries.
That it is intended to enhance the level of trust and evaluation of Japan in the international community.
That it bears important significance in assuring safety and prosperity for Japan, and
That it contributes towards the advancement of Japan's national interests in a broad sense, including the maintenance of peace.

When these guidelines and policies may be violated, it is natural that the Japanese government makes some form of request to the country in question.

During the summit meeting between Japan and China, Prime Minister Mori neither forced China to convey its appreciation regarding Japan's ODA, nor did he force Premier Zhu to give up the so-called history card. Premier Zhu stated that "China suffered tremendous miseries caused by the Japanese militarism, but let us proceed toward the future using the history as a mirror." Prime Minister Mori responded that the Japanese government has repeatedly made its "historical perception" clear in the Japan-China Joint Statement of 1972, in the statement made by then Prime Minister Murayama in 1995, and in the Japan-China Join Declaration of 1998.

Although it is true that a small group of Japanese people have attempted to overturn such historical reflections, they are only a minority. An overwhelming majority of the Japanese people share Premier Zhu's idea that the two nations should proceed toward the future using the history as a mirror.

I believe that we are now in a crucial time to decide how to promote political and economic development and stability in Asia for the future. All Asian countries should sit at the same table and deepen mutual understanding through discussions. Surely such discussions should not exclude how Japan's ODA is provided.

The writer is a professor of China studies at Hokkaido University. He previously served as the Yomiuri Shimbun's Beijin Bureau Chief and Editorial Writer.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

高井 潔司  / 北海道大学教授(中国研究)

2000年 11月 24日











一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟