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China Against Japan Getting a Permanent Seat on UN Security Council

Leta Fincher

China's premier Wen Jiabao has warned Japan that it must face up to its past aggression toward its Asian neighbors before it will be ready for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Mr. Wen's comments come after a weekend of anti-Japan protests in several Chinese cities. Leta Hong Fincher has more.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's comments (Tuesday) are the most direct indication yet that China may oppose Japan's bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat.

"I think the core issue in the China-Japan relationship is that Japan needs to face up squarely to history," says premier Jiabao.

Mr. Wen said during a visit to India that only a country that wins the trust of people in Asia and the world can take on greater responsibilities in the international community. 

His comments come after two days of violent anti-Japan protests in Beijing and several other Chinese cities. Mr. Wen said the protests targeted Japan's campaign for a permanent Security Council seat.  

Another trigger for the demonstrations was Japan's approval of a new history textbook that critics say glosses over wartime atrocities, such as the rape of thousands of "comfort women" used as sex slaves by the Japanese military.

Critics in China and South Korea argue that the textbooks justify Tokyo's military expansion and call World War Two the "Great Asia War," a wartime propaganda term.

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (Tuesday) demanded that Beijing protect Japanese people in China.

"China has responsibility in securing Japanese free activity in China. We need this to be fully acknowledged by China," says Junichiro Koizumi.

Japan's Trade Minister, Shoichi Nakagawa, added (Tuesday) that the violence made him think China is a "scary country."  Japanese officials have asked for an apology for the protests and compensation for damage to diplomatic missions.

Beijing has not yet apologized.

Analysts say that economically, Japan and China are edging closer together through tens of billions of dollars in trade and investment.  But several thousand Chinese recently marched through Beijing calling for a boycott of Japanese-made goods

Yuki Tatsumi is an expert on Northeast Asian security at the Henry Stimson Center research group in Washington D.C.

"Those [Chinese actions] really help those within Japan who want to emphasize the threatening aspect of China, as opposed to those who want to emphasize the cooperative aspect of China and the potential of a good relationship with China," says Yuki Tatsumi.

Analysts say Japan's unease with China's surging influence and China's discomfort with Japan's military ambitions will make it difficult to improve relations anytime soon.

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