Wang Jian, a scholar at the Institute of Modern History at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, published an article in the Japanese Journal (2017, No. 2 issue) titled, “The Evolution of Taiwan-Japan Relations in the 21st Century,” with the subtitle, “The Structural Contradictions between Taiwan and Japan and the Factors Impacting Future Trends.” The article pointed out that since the start of the 21st century, the relationship between Taiwan and Japan has undergone a series of changes. In Chen Shui-bian’s administration, there were frequent interactions in the political and security areas. The tendency toward “jurisprudential independence” made the Taiwan crisis even more prominent. After Ma Ying-jeou took office, he started the “flexible diplomacy” and initiated the “special partnership between Taiwan and Japan Year” program. The relations between Taiwan and Japan showed an upward trend which continued after the East Japan earthquake. Today difficult-to-reconcile structural contradictions between Japan and Taiwan still remain, including fishing rights in the Douglas Reef (Okino Tori Shima), the export ban on food from five Fukushima counties to Taiwan, and the Taiwan-Japan EPA negotiations. After Tsai Ing-wen came to power, the contradictions started to “intensify.” Taiwan-Japan relations gradually come down to the reality of interests from the too high “expectations” from the past. The factors affecting the relationship such as the Sino-U.S., Sino-Japanese, Japan-U.S. and the cross-strait relations are also being adjusted accordingly, but they will have more uncertainty. From the perspective of the Taiwan DPP authorities’ choice of foreign policy, the future relationship between Taiwan and Japan will be closer. Their alliance for common interests to compete against China’s mainland is still the biggest variable.
Source: People’s Daily, May 28, 2017