Cablegate: Media Reaction: Sino-Japan Relations
DE RUEHIN #0623 1270849
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060849Z MAY 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8859
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8234
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9479
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000623
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - NIDA EMMONS
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: SINO-JAPAN RELATIONS
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage May 6 on the investigation into Taiwan's Papua New Guinea
diplomatic fund scandal; Taiwan's second fatal enterovirus case this
year; the new policy of Taiwan's Department of Health (DOH)
regarding vitamins and drug categories; and on the leakage of
personal information online during Taiwan's tax season. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, an editorial and a commentary in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times," based on the
historical issues and the role of the United States and Taiwan in
the region, cast doubt on the expectation that Sino-Japan relations
will improve simply by Chinese President Hu Jintao's first state
visit to Japan starting May 6. End summary.
A) "Will Japan Get in Bed with China?"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (5/6):
"... But there are a few sticking points that are sure to put clouds
among the high hopes for clearer skies in Sino-Japanese relations.
"The first is the fact that Japan will express no outright
opposition to Taiwanese independence in the joint statement,
something that Beijing had vehemently requested. Rather, Tokyo
will maintain its position that it does not support a unilateral
move toward independence by Taipei. This is good news for Taiwan,
which would have been dealt a severe blow had Tokyo abandoned its
longstanding position on the issue.
"By doing so, the Fukuda administration will be giving Taipei enough
latitude to negotiate without the handicap of a substantive ally
that has been muzzled. Tokyo's refusal to change its position also
underscores Taiwan's continued importance in Japan's strategic
sphere and outer area of defense.
"Which brings us to the second likely sticking point: the Liberal
Democratic Party-led coalition's efforts, spearheaded by a
referendum last year, to amend Article 9 of the Constitution, which
since the end of World War II has made pacifism the modus operandi
in Japan's international relations. Pressured by the US to play a
greater role in international security, some elements in Tokyo have
seen this as an opportunity to break the shackles of the
Constitution and give the military more opportunities to participate
in missions abroad.
"While the desire for a reinterpretation of Article 9 is a long way
from overt militarism, Beijing is unlikely to react kindly to such
developments - especially if it interprets the measures as a sign of
a resurgent Japanese military or a means for the US and Japan to
constrain China's actions internationally. ..."
B) "A Fresh Start for China and Japan?"
Jiang Wenran, the acting director of the China Institute at the
University of Alberta and a senior fellow of the Asia Pacific
Foundation of Canada, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (5/6):
"... [Japan Prime Minister Yasuo] Fukuda has dropped [former Japan
Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe's talk about an 'arch of freedom' - an
effort to forge a bloc with the US, Australia and India. But Japan
remains concerned about China's rapidly modernizing military, while
China worries about a potential US-Japan containment strategy for
China, especially in the case of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait.
"So, although both sides endorse the idea of a 'mutually beneficial
strategic relationship,' and despite bilateral progress on military
exchanges, mutual trust and confidence-building have a long way to