One might expect close trade ties and a common interest in regional stability to pull China and Japan together. But Smith explores several ways in which growing Chinese power has undercut Japanese public support for conciliatory policies toward Beijing. Chinese umbrage at Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine—which honors those who died fighting for the Japanese empire, including a number of convicted war criminals—has made it difficult for Japanese prime ministers to pay their respects to the war dead, whom many Japanese view as honorable patriots. In 2008, a shipment of poisoned dumplings from China sickened at least ten people in Japan and heightened long-standing anxieties about the country’s dependence on imported food. The -ratification by both countries of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea intensified, rather than resolved, disputes over rights to fisheries and undersea oil resources. And the Japanese public has been shocked by the inability of their country’s maritime forces to prevent recent Chinese incursions into Japanese territorial waters. Episodes like these have fed existing fears about the weakness of the Japanese government, generating pressure for a harder stance toward China.
Get the latest book reviews delivered right to your inbox.