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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Why did Japan adopt the policy of 'separating economics from politics'? A look at post Second World War Sino-Japanese relations from a Korean standpoint Park, Chungja Cho


Japan's foreign relations with the People's Republic of China have been one of the most important and controversial issues since Japan regained her independence in 1952. Geographical proximaty, historical ties that Japan has with China, and China being a major power with nuclear capability made it vitally important for Japan to keep a pipeline open with her, and the policy of separating economics from politics permitted trade relations with her. In this thesis I am chiefly interested in finding out why it was of utmost importance for Japan to adopt this principle of foreign policy toward Communist China. In the first section, the international situation and historical circumstances which eventually led Japan to adopt this policy will be explored. The second section will deal with the international significance and implications of this policy. In section three I should like to analyze how the actual negotiations on "trade" are used by both the Chinese leaders and the pro-Peking leaders in Japan as a means of changing Japan's policy toward China. An important aspect of this policy treated in the last section is the internal political impact in Japan. Finally, I should like to see how Korea will be affected by Japan's new relations with the People's Republic of China. The chief cause of adopting and pursuing the policy of separating economics from politics stemmed from international circumstances in which Japan found herself as a defeated nation after the Second World War. It was the nature of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the timing of the signing, the attitude of Communist China and Japan's particular relation to the United States that made Japan recognize Nationalist China. Since neither Nationalist China nor Communist China would permit diplomatic ties with any country that recognized the other, it was not possible for Japan to recognize both regimes. Therefore, Japan maintained only economic relations with Communist China without any direct political contact. Sino-Japanese trade relations were based on the reality of both Communist China and Japan. From Japan's point of view it was a realistic approach to maximize economic opportunities and minimize political involvement until the right opportunity came for normalization. By adopting and practising the policy of separating economics from politics, Japan looked for larger commercial opportunities in the future and it also served as a pipeline between the two big countries in Asia. From China's viewpoint, it was an "accumulative" approach for the eventual normalization of relations with Japan. Trade was used as an instrument of political pressure and it reflected China's political aims. The volume of trade fluctuated and the techniques China used varied according to the political objectives. China appealed to a "broad political spectrum" in Japan through private agreements and exchange of unofficial private delegations. China threatened Japan with suspension of trade, and manipulated her with "friendly trade" and "memorandum trade". Since the agreement for the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations was signed on September 29, 1972 the controversial issue of "separating economics from politics" has become a story of the past. The admission of Communist China to the United Nations in 1971, Nixon's visit to China in February, 1972, and the eventual change of the policy of the United Nations gave Japan an opportunity to change her policy and recognize the People's Republic of China. With the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations, Korea must seek her role by pursuing "independent and positive" action. The talks between North and South for the eventual unification of Korea and the new constitution of South Korea which was adopted in 1972 reflect Korea's attempts to adjust herself to this role.

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