In a bid to assist his nation in renewing strained ties with China, Tokyo’s new governor Yoichi Masuzoe has vowed to help its neighbor country address air pollution and declining demographic issues. Masuzoe hopes that diplomacy within the city-level will help pave the way for mending diplomatic ties.
Elected last month to replace former governor Naoki Inose, who resigned due to a loans scandal, Masuzoe expressed his hope to take part in renewing the strained relations. Japan and China are in the middle of a territorial dispute that was further strained by bitterness over Japan’s former military expansion and aggression during World War II. Speaking to reporters, the 65-year old former welfare minister and international politics professor said, “The bilateral relationship with (China) is so bad, as you know. Foreign diplomacy is almost broken.” He added, “I like to improve it by helping with their environmental problems and also social welfare. I am not a foreign minister, nor prime minister. But at least, as the governor of Tokyo, I can do something.”
Shintaro Ishihara, a known nationalist with strong anti-China sentiment, who moved to nationalize islands in the middle of disputes with China, led Tokyo for 13 years until 2012. Masuzoe expressed his desire to cooperate with Beijing on finding a solution of the problem of air pollution in Beijing and other cities, as Tokyo’s air is relatively clean despite the 30 million citizens and expressways in the city. Adding that he also would like to work on the welfare programs of China that affects its demographic concerns as effects of their “one-child policy.” The Tokyo governor also expressed his desire to visit the Chinese capital “as soon as possible” to gain insight and knowledge on how they hosted the 2008 Olympics as the city‘s preparations for the 2020 Olympics have already begun.