The celebration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War which will take place on September, 3rd in Beijing, is of interest in many aspects, primarily in view of the current situation and expected development of the political situation not only in Asia-Pacific Region but also worldwide.
It is even more interesting how today’s Chinese governmental authorities consider the role of its Asia-Pacific battlefield in the Second World War, and also the role of China itself in the greatest military conflict in the world history.
The official name which also describes the reason for the ceremony on September, 3, now reads as follows: “China’s victory in the war against Japan’s aggression.”
Let us leave behind the historical fairness of China’s modern tendency to exaggerate its significance in the Second World War, and also its role in the Asia-Pacific battlefield, we won’t lie saying that this tendency completely meets the today’s political needs of the second world superpower.
A key element of the celebrations is going to be a military parade in Beijing – it will be the first time when the parade is organized for the above reason. Until now, military parades in China have taken place annually on October, 1 as part of the national celebration – the National Founding Day of the People’s Republic of China.
About 12,000 military staff and an enormous number of various (including up-to-date) Chinese military weaponry, including strategic missiles, aircraft and tanks have been announced to take part in the parade on September, 3, 2015.
As reported the Western leaders (including Barack Obama and David Cameron), whose countries contributed minimum as much as China to the victory over Japan, are likely to be invited to visit the parade However, it is highly unlikely that they will accept the invitations.
It is quite obvious that the parade which is going to march on the main square of the Chinese capital on the 3rd of September is already missing some participants in order to be called historically fair. This fact is a good example to show that such concepts as «historical justice” and also “standards in human morality that have been established throughout the centuries” on the one hand and “Realpolitik” have nothing in common whatsoever.
Alas, that is the reality of our far from perfect world, that only a hopeless idiot or an outright hypocrite can allow himself to ignore.
In the catastrophic perestroika reform period of our recent history cultural and intellectual dregs of that sort had flooded the Russian society up to that point.
In this regard, when we see such contributors to the completion of the Pacific War as Kazakhstan and Mexico in the list of parade participants, but we don’t see the USA it looks absolutely natural given the Realpolitik that is currently maintained in the Asia-Pacific Region and should not be subject to moral inspection.
Moreover, the described format of the upcoming parade is hardly going to cause any negative reactions from Washington officials, even sarcastic ones. Both of the leading world players fully understand and respect (as far as it is actually possible in the increasing conflict conditions) the background reasons.
For external observers the fact that the US military personnel is not engaged in the parade will become a symptom of troubles in the relationship between the two leading world superpowers, also followed by the situation in the Asia-Pacific Region.
The (non) participation of the USA in this parade is more or less clear and predicted. But, perhaps, the main intrigue up to August, 20 was a possible visit of the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe, to Beijing for the celebrations.
The Japanese press periodically published some kind of ‘information’, which obviously didn’t come “out of the blue”. In particular it was stated that the terms of S. Abe’s visit had been discussed during the visit of the head of the Japanese National Security Council, Shotaro Yachi to Beijing at the end of July. The most important issue during those negotiations was S. Abe’s speech about the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War, which was on August, 14.
During several days in Beijing, it seems, they debated all pros and cons of the possible speech and also Japanese Prime Minister’s presence at the upcoming celebrations. Finally, on the 20th of August the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed his surprise about the contents of one of the latest publications of a leading Japanese newspaper, the Mainichi Shimbun, in which the topic of S. Abe’s possible visit to Beijing was once again discussed. It turns out that “nobody had heard about” such plans in China.
On the following day, the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China announced that “Japan should do more to rebuild and develop its relationships with its neighbours.”.
The reason for the latest reprimand addressing Tokyo on the theme of the rules of good political tone this time was the wife of Abe visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, where the 2.5 million Japanese military personnel and war criminals convicted by the Tokyo Tribunal are commemorated.
On 24th August the intrigue was finally put to an end with the announcement made by Japanese government that S. Abe’s visit was not to happen.
However, the meeting between both leaders at the is still possible, in particular at upcoming international forums, such as the Opening of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in September of the next APEC Summit which will take place at the end of November in Manila. But again these are purely Japanese opinions.
There are also reports of an initiative from South Korea to hold trilateral summit (with China and Japan’s participation) at the beginning of October in Seoul.
In view of the fact that S. Abe’s hypothetical visit to Beijing was suggested “in the spirit of Angela Merkel” (who visited Moscow during the celebrations marking the end of World War Two but did not attend the parade), then it is worth briefly discussing the topic of the varying scope and nature of the problems in the current Russia-Germany and Japan-China relations.
The relations between Russia and Germany that had been rather good and friendly, became strained due to the escalation of the Ukraine crisis. However, the reaching an agreement between the involved parties about the future of that part of what was historically Russian territory seems entirely probable. For that, it’s necessary to recognise the simple truth that present day Ukraine is a furunculus (in layman’s terms – a boil) on the backside of Europe, causing not exactly catastrophic but nonetheless significant discomfort.
Isn’t that the case? Current Japan-China relations are taking on an increasingly confrontational nature for a variety of reasons. Some of the “rational ones” can be stated relatively simply, others “of historical nature” are a lot more complicated to understand.
The important thing is that they are closely interlinked, which makes the growing tension between Japan and China of a much more fundamental nature, than those of Russia and Germany.
It is possible that in a bilateral format they almost cannot be smoothed over, and extending it to a trilateral format with participation of Russia would give a positive result.
Whatever the case, S. Abe’s absence in Beijing on 3 September will mean that three of the leading world powers in North-Eastern Asia have truly missed their chance to discuss regional problems at the highest level with an aim to at least set out a roadmap to their solution.
This time somewhere, something for some reason didn’t work out and now only the most broad suggestions on this topic can be made.
Thus, the Russia-Japan relations have been frequently discussed by the Chinese semi-official newspaper, the Global Times. Primarily, the difficulty in reconciling Moscow and Tokyo’s positions on the so-called “problem of the northern territories” has been emphasized.
However, in the article entitled “The USA is against the developing relations between Moscow and Japan” dated 19th August of this year, it is possibly the first time that the topic of Washington’s reticence regarding potential Japan’s excessive independence and the USA’s subsequent losing of control over a key US ally in the Asia-Pacific Region has been mentioned so transparently. On top of that there are the US concerns about Russia become Japan’s potential partner.
This, according to the author of the above article, is forcing the US pressure on Tokyo to put obstacles to the development of Japan-Russia relations.
It is an entirely convincing point of view, but considering the difficult history of Japan-China relations, China’s concerns regarding the potential “excessively close” Russia-Japan relations is understandable.
In conclusion it is worth mentioning that such concerns held no real basis in fact earlier and now, following the failed possible meeting between Russian and Japanese leaders in Beijing and also the completely contradictory messages that have been sent over the last few months from Moscow to Tokyo, it seems that Beijing (and Washington for that matter) can relax for a long time.
Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.