by Xinhua writer Wang Aihua
BEIJING, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Japan's new government, led by Shinzo Abe, is wrong to pin its hopes on further defying China over the Diaoyu Islands in order to divert public discontent regarding Japan's domestic woes.
After barely half a month in office, Abe is wagering a dangerous gamble by reportedly telling Japan's self-defense forces to fire warning shots if they encounter Chinese surveillance planes over the Diaoyu Islands.
If Abe hopes his tough stance can help boost his image at home, he has made the wrong bet. China has reaffirmed time and again its resolution to defend its territorial sovereignty, and China has the economic and military power to do so.
Japan's threat will only further deteriorate bilateral ties, which in the end will be a price that the Japanese public has to pay.
Since Japan announced its "purchase" of part of the Diaoyu Islands in September, trade with China has seen a continuous drop. The latest figures show that bilateral trade in 2012 sank 3.9 percent from a year earlier -- a blow to both countries, but especially for Japan.
Major Japanese automobile manufacturers saw their 2012 sales in China slip by as much as 5 percent compared with 2011 despite an overall booming automotive industry in China.
Losing a massive emerging market like China is too high a price to pay and ordinary Japanese should not have to suffer accordingly.
Abe won the election because of his pledges to revitalize the country's ailing economy, an arduous mission that will be made even harder if ties with China worsen.
Aside from trade, confronting China with force will require Japan to spend more money to bolster its military strength, something the country's Defense Ministry said is already being planned.
But given the Japanese government's swelling budget deficit, the ministry's plan to ask for about 2 billion U.S. dollars will only mean less expenditures in other areas, which is unfair to the Japanese people.
If Japan wants to be a responsible player in the global arena, it should learn to follow the rules of international law. Its provocative acts on the Diaoyu Islands reveal its attempt to deny the effects of the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation.
Japan should also avoid playing zero-sum games, as sound relations between the world's second- and third-largest economies are vital at a time when debt crises and economic slowdowns are affecting some of the world's most important economies.
Abe has to be wary of history repeating itself. Based on the rules of revolving top government post in Japan over recent years, he has about one year to prove himself to the public.