Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe likened the current strain between his nation and China with the conflict between Britain and Germany during World War One. Speaking to journalists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Japanese leader said that the ongoing tensions between the two Asian powerhouses are “similar” to the European countries before the brink of war.
He noted that while Britain and Germany had a strong relationship due to trade between their countries, tensions still remained that eventually resulted in war in 1914. Being the world’s second and third largest economy respectively, China and Japan have a trade and business relationship worth $334 billion in 2012. But the figures have not stopped the two nations from bickering and engaging in word wars the past months. Bilateral ties have long been affected by China’s opinion that Japan is unrepentant for its military aggression towards China in the 1930s and 1940s. Add to that a territorial dispute, China’s armaments buildup and Abe’s visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and what you have is the current Sino-Japanese relationship. Abe also noted that while Japan has constantly called for talks to discuss the conflict, China’s continuous military spending has caused instability and security concerns in the region.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga defended Abe’s statement comparing Japan-China relations with that of Britain and Germany, clarifying that it does not necessarily mean that war is inevitable between the two nations. He reiterated Abe’s call for dialogue and rule of law to resolve conflict. “He clearly stated that endless military expansion in Asia must be curbed. I believe, in these words, he underscored the importance of peace and stability in Asia,” said Suga. In his message to local Chinese dailies, Abe wrote that his nation has “built a free and democratic country and taken the path of peace” after World War Two has ended and that “nothing has been changed in the policy of continuing to uphold this position.”