Forever apart or what?
THE gulf in understanding between China and Japan ought not be confused with the comfort level between incumbent leaders. The psychic wounds on the Chinese side are so deeply seared and Japan's official view of wartime events is so ambiguous it is not possible to heal the breach for all time.
These cycles complicate the historical burden they share. There are enough current niggling differences that will make Mr Hu's visit not all smooth, although he suggested to Japanese reporters in a pre-tour meeting that he seeks to build ties on the basis of common interests. Tibet, Taiwan, energy exploration and even an inconclusive investigation into food safety issues are enough to keep their foreign ministries busy. But these are nowhere as harmful as an inability by both sides to decide once and for all how they want to consign the deadweight of history. Kyodo news agency reports that the communique to sum up the Hu visit will likely soft-pedal the issue: no avowal of 'responsibility' or 'reflections' concerning the wartime invasion, only acknowledgement that Japan should face up to history. President Jiang Zemin's 1998 visit elicited in the joint statement Japan's 'deep remorse' for its aggression. Essentially, the lack of finality means the issue will be left to future generations to decide. For now, any warming in a vital relationship that corresponds with how favourably the two nations' sitting leaders regard one another is still to be savoured.
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