News analysis

Deep-rooted issues in the way of rosier ties between Beijing, Tokyo

History and strategic rivalry could limit progress as two sides pursue closer relations

Men dressed as Japanese imperial army soldiers march in front of Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug 15, 2018, on the 73rd anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II. PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS
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BEIJING • Just last month, Beijing rebuked Tokyo at least twice.

The first time had to do with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ritual donation to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japanese war dead including those involved in the 1937-1945 war against China. The second was over Tokyo's release of a defence White Paper on Tuesday that raised concerns about China's escalation of military activities in areas close to Japan. Both are indications that while relations between the two neighbours and regional rivals are improving, there are issues of history and strategic antagonism that could limit the progress.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2018, with the headline Deep-rooted issues in the way of rosier ties between Beijing, Tokyo. Subscribe