The confrontational situation between Japan and China, exacerbated last September (2012) by their clash over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands is a matter of deep concern.
With our strong desire to reduce the friction and to rebuild the relationship, we who are like-minded and share the same aspirations, gathered in July 2013 to establish the “Association of Scholars Advocating Renewal of Japan-China Relationship.”
Japan and China normalized their diplomatic relations in 1972 in the midst of a period of major international changes. Regrettably, however, more than 40 years later, strong tensions exist between the two countries, both on a governmental level and in terms of public sentiment. A dangerous situation persists that may ignite clashes between fishing vessels and patrol boats, or even a military confrontation in the East China Sea. Any military conflict over the small islands between these two nations, which together hold the key to peace and development in East Asia, would be a living nightmare.
To extricate ourselves from this situation, and to alleviate current tensions, we appeal the following points to the governments of Japan, and China, to all related individuals and organizations, and to the broad public in both countries
First, easing and resolving tension arising out of any confrontation, or other trouble that may occur between the two countries must proceed through peaceful methods only. When disagreements occur over territory, force must not be employed; rather, both countries must strive for a resolution through negotiations and discussions based on international rules.
They must not fall into a situation of competitive military expansion but rather recover the spirit of the “Treaty of Peace and Friendship” between Japan and the People’s Republic of China, which promises mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and renounces the use or threat of force.
Second, agreement and compromise is not easy in problems related to territorial lands or seas, as these can readily involve questions of sovereignty, easily lead to disputes over such principles as historical and legal rights and justice, and likely stir up people’s emotions.
Therefore, it is essential to maintain calm and use wisdom to prevent diffusion or expansion of conflicts over these problems to other levels.
The current conflict must not lead to obstacles in economic relations, freezes in cultural and academic interactions, or cuts in exchanges at regional (local) and grassroots levels. We are especially concerned that the various Japan-China academic exchanges that are currently stalled be resumed.
Third, the governments and peoples of both nations need to see beyond the blinders of extreme exclusionary nationalism. There was a time in early modern East Asia when nationalism served to open up a new period of history.
Today, however, when people of multiple nations are directly facing serious issues that demand swift resolution, and crises that exceed national borders, exclusionary nationalism can only cause and exacerbate disputes but will never lead to positive results.
Together Japan and China have carved out a long history of deep and rich mutual influences.
Now these two nations stand side-by-side in bearing the responsibility for the peace and development of East Asia. For the region, as well as for the whole world, and our children and descendents, we must not lose opportunities to reap the major mutual benefits that are fostered through cooperation and exchanges.
The governments and peoples of Japan and China must not be ensnared by prospects of short-sighted interests and temporary strong passions; rather, calm and thoughtful actions are called for.
We also seek to contribute to the realization of this ideal.
Our Association will strive especially in regards to the following three points.
First, through our academic findings and papers we will advance the formation of mutual trust between the governments, peoples, and scholars of Japan and China. Through this we will strive to find ways to overcome nationalism and to facilitate reconciliation among the nations and peoples of East Asia.
Next, we will strive to broaden and deepen international intellectual networks with Japanese and Chinese scholars serving as the core. Together we will work towards a relaxing of tension in the East Asia region.
Finally, we seek an innovative paradigm for research related to Japan and China that can work in novel ways to promote good neighborly relations between the two countries.
The issues are many and road is long. We welcome all researchers who can agree with the aims and intention of this Association, and humbly request your support and cooperation.