2012 saw Sino-Japanese relations take a turn for the worst with the territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands which prompted unofficial boycotts of Japanese goods in China. Many Japanese citizens feel very personally involved by the territorial dispute and many politicians often simply kowtow to popular opinion, but every so often a prominent public figure will stir up debate by voicing a totally different opinion.
It is not hard to see where Kono was coming from. China is Japan’s main trade partner by far with the total amount of Japan-China trade averaging at around US$350 billion per year since 2008, and Japanese investment in China adding up to UD$13 billion last year alone, yet Kono’s remarks prompted an outcry of thousands of netizen comments and hundreds of Tweets saying that Kono was simply selling the country to China. Yahoo! News gives some excerpts from his controversial speech.
“Japan’s Economy Has No Future If We Cut Ties with China” Says Former House of Representatives Speaker Kono Yohei
[Xinhua Japan] Kono Yohei, president of the Association for the Promotion of International Trade Japan, and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, said that he hopped the new Japanese administration would actively strive towards taking policies to fix relations with China, in a joint new year party sponsored by his association and the China-Japan Economic Foundation on the 8th.
President Kono said that “it is truly regrettable considering all our sempai who strove to develop relations of friendship and economic cooperation between Japan and China. Relation between our two countries can’t just be split like that. More than 20,000 Japanese companies are currently expanding in China and many are cooperating with Chinese companies. Japan’s economy has no future if we cut ties with China. The current conditions are not good, but we must use all our knowledge and good sense and try to resolve this stalemate as quickly as possible.”
Moreover, he also said: “The new administration, which came to power at the end of 2012, places economic problems first and foremost, with diplomatic problems and so on coming after that. If indeed economic issues will take priority, [the administration] should recognize the importance of Sino-Japanese relations. China is Japan’s most important economic partner, and if we can’t resolve these problems, Japan’s economy will never truly be able to advance. From the bottom of my heart, I really hope that the new administration will work assertively towards taking measures to improve relations with our neighboring countries, especially China.”
Comments from Yahoo! News:
Japan has no future if we lose our national principles. We don’t need any more politicians selling out our country.
What the hell, so his amakudari [when senior civil servants retire to private sector; literally ‘descent from heaven’] was to this organisation?!
Shut up fucker!
Is we translated the Kono statement [in which then Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono apologised for the comfort women issue] into an economic loss, it would be about 100 trillion yen. If this was a decent country, he’d be in prison.
The Kono statement is the cancer of Japanese diplomacy.
A pro-Chinese traitor Diet Member has no future!!
Dude, just shut up! Don’t say Japan has no future! Keep out of it! Idiot!
Good job selling your country…
Isn’t it so stupid? “Relying on China” is an outdated trends of the Japanese economy. India, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia are where it’s at now. Thailand and the Philippines also look like they might come back. Bangladesh also has good human resources. People who can’t keep up with the times, however, aren’t qualified to participate in politics.
<span title="こういうことを言う輩がいるから中国がいい気になるんじゃん。もういい加減に黙っていてほしいものだ。It's because there are old guys like him around who say stuff like this that China is so full of itself. I wish he'd just shut up, I've had enough.
You destroyed relations between Japan and Korea!
How much did the CPC bribe him?
Taro Kono! Before you go and talk big, do something about your father! [Kono Yohei is Kono Taro’s father]!
Dead men tell no tales. People from the past should not talk about important things. Don’t you understand that crazy speeches like this make the Communist Party of China feel good?
All the same, you don’t need to bend justice!
Kono is a stupid old man. We should withdraw Japanese companies from China which does not follow the world’s rules and find other countries to be friends with first.
What is the guy who messed up Japan-Korea relations going on about now about messing up China-Japan relations?