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June 24th, 2008
Japanese Destroyer Docks in China

A Japanese warship docked in China Tuesday, for the first time since World War II. The destroyer Sazanami’s arrival in the southern Chinese port city of Zhanjiang follows the docking of a Chinese warship, the Shenzhen, in Japan last November.

The exchange is symbolic of improving relations between the two rival Asian powers and former WWII enemies.

The Sazanami carried food, blankets and emergency supplies for victims of China’s recent earthquake. Crew members are scheduled to participate in carefully choreographed “friendship” events, including a concert and reception.

But the visit is not without controversy, as many Chinese are still bitter over Japan’s invasion and occupation of their country during the 1930s and 1940s.

Last month, Japan decided against delivering aid to earthquake victims by means of military aircraft because of Chinese concerns about the presence of the Japanese military on their soil. A Japanese newspaper reported that a concert scheduled for today was canceled because “part of public opinion in China is against the Japanese destroyer’s visit.”

Still, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that the visit would “help enhance the friendship and mutual trust between the two counties.

For more on the expanding role of the Japanese military, watch Japan’s About-Face, premiering on WIDE ANGLE on July 8th.

  • Abel Yau

    Japanese Navy coming to China is like Taliban visiting New york! With their bomb vests left on the airplane. I believe the Japanese Navy with not set sail without armaments

  • Lanny Olson

    I welcome the remilitarization of Japan. The current Japan is nothing like the entity from world war 2. I understand Chinese sensitivity about the presence of the Japanese military on there soil. It is time to give up the hate. Time to live. World war 2 was 63 years ago.

  • anonymous

    The two governments have agreed on the issue- although popular support for the move differs greatly on both sides of the fence. This move is more of a political move signaling the (again, political rather than social) warming of China-Japan relations rather than a harbinger of Japanese remilitarization- which it continues to do alongside the United States, as symbolized by the Japanese deployment of ballistic missile interceptors alongside the U.S. Navy.

    Politically, Japan is uncapable of greatly expanding its military without relying on the United States for its weaponry and technology- that is the cornerstone of Japanese foreign policy and always will be. For that matter, its also politically impossible to achieve full remilitarization- the antiwar sentiment in Japan, combined with the current political quagmire will not allow it.

    But in both societies… political arguments just don’t work. There’s not 63 years of antagonism, but well over 70 years of hostility towards Japan from both China and Korea. Political arguments just don’t work that well in a long-held atmosphere of distrust.

  • Rhonda

    Has Japan truly give up it’s warrior’s ways? There has always been interest in it’s fighting skills in hand to hand and sword fighting too. National pride is mix blessings and can be a terrible sword against it’s own neck or seen as a way to cross other’s boundary’s and justified too.

  • Jamie Dwyer

    I am a Chicago resident, recently returned from helping host the Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War in Japan, and was very surprised to see your coverage of the Article 9 issue. Our conference was the final destination for the Peace Walk your program covered. The conference itself catered to over 22,000 participants in Tokyo (3000 of which were unabale to fit into the conference’s plenary venue and listened to the speakers in a nearby park) and another 10,000 in branch conferences nationwide. It was host to close to 200 international guests: peace activists, lawyers, and NGO leaders from 40 different countries and regions, including Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, and Hague Appeal for Peace President Cora Weiss (plus messages and support from Nobel Laureates Jody Williams and Wangari Maathai, former International Court of Justice Judge C.G. Weeramantry, UN Chief of the NGO section/ECOSOC Hanifa Mezoui, among others). Their messages spread awareness of Japan’s Article 9 across gender, generation and class and detailed its global relevance as a tool for international peace.

    For more information on how the Global Article 9 Conference impacted not only Japanese participants, but also provided ideas and inspiration to so many international guests to use Japan’s peace clause as a
    stepping-stool to conflict prevention in their own countries, please see the following:

    http://www.japanfocus.org/products/details/2760

    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/05/04/news/Japan-Constitution.php_

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080505a3.html_

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/symposium-urges-japan-to-keep-art_

    http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0509/TKY200805080312.html

    For more information about the participants, conference program and campaign, please see:

    http://whynot9.jp and

    http://www.article-9.org

    The campaign is ongoing and is not purely a Japanese issue. We aim to maintain this clause and to spread it as a workable model for other countries, in particular as a legal means for continual public criticism and debate of govermental actions. Article 9 is something the Japanese people can point to and hold their leaders accountable for their use of military resources. To change it would drastically heighten fears and the probability of an arms race in the Asian sphere. Despite one of the world’s largest defense miltary expenditures, no Japanese soldier has killed or been killed in condoned military combat in over 60 years. Isn’t that something to talk about? Other countries, especially fledling states, could benefit tremendously from similar clauses in their constitutions. OUR country could benefit tremoundously form a similar clause. The American people need something, a legal framework, to point to and hold our leaders accountable for their military actions.

  • Badabing

    To Lanny Olson. Chinese to give up the hate? Closure takes two. If the Japanese Government can’t be sensible enough to formally apologize to China and her people, and it’s now 64 years that they have skirted around that, you can’t expect that China just let it go. Remember, 30 million Chinese perished during WWII, five times that of the victim count during the Holocaust. Germany formally apologized right after the War so what makes the deeds of the Japanese less significant. They were the aggressors but American policies prompt Japan to hold a high posture for over six decades. Tough to persuade 1.3 billion people just simply sweep the massacres and other heinous crimes under the rug and give up the hate. Closure takes two.

  • LOL

    Well, between Chinese vs. Japanese, may the process of organic conception of the state as a biological organism play out. Survival of the fittest, Japan couldn’t become a great continental land empire on the heel of Chinese revolution, civil war, and backwardsness, somebody has to pay the price for failure.

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