Measuring Progress From Wen's Japan Visit

What’s come out of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s visit in Tokyo? Well, the Associated Press has a quick list. Here are the parts that might actually be news, instead of reiterations of things like agreeing to work for a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula:

  • Agreements to work for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol and to work on more energy efficient technology got a higher profile in this meeting than they had before, but are not exactly new proposals unless other details emerge.
  • AP reports that the leaders agreed to “[s]trengthen cooperation in defense policy, including reciprocal visits by warships.” This could be real progress toward the reduction of mutual fear and could contribute to regional security, since joint military activities educate sailors about their counterparts, potentially lowering tension in flash-point situations.
  • An agreement to “[s]peed up Japan’s cleanup of chemical weapons left in China from the World War II era” may have been a calculated concession by Abe, given his nationalism and hard stance on history.
  • Agreeing to “face up to history” may sound like something, but it’s been said over and over by Japanese leaders apparently with little relation to actual actions, conciliatory or not.
  • There was more talk about another Abe visit to China this, following up on last year’s after he entered office. This may be the first mention of a possible visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Japan in 2008.
  • And as Japan weighs whether to join the United States in WTO action over Chinese intellectual property practices, the two sides agreed to “[w]ork together to promote intellectual property rights.”

AP has no mention of an expected decision by China to allow Japanese rice imports. But this list may not be comprehensive. I’ll have my eyes out for more over the coming days. I haven’t seen anything on so-called “comfort women” yet either, but it would not be unusual for that issue to go undiscussed in public during the diplomatic visit.

UPDATE: There’s that rice agreement.





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