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June 1989

The Situation in China – Main Points of Minister’s Remarks at Japan-United States Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

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The Situation in China – Main Points of Minister’s Remarks at Japan-United States Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

(China’s Current Situation)

1. At this time, there is a recognition that the situation is returning to normal through the hardline faction of Deng Xiaoping, Yang Shangkun, and Li Peng, but much is still uncertain. For now, regardless of how things settle, the situation in China is likely to remain unstable for the time being. Due to its fragility, the regime will probably take a hardline foreign stance.

2. In any event, the return to a China that pursues moderate policies would be desirable, but overestimating the forces calling for democratization in China would be an error. The Chinese, mostly peasants, are for the most part indifferent to political freedom.

3. This situation reveals just how difficult it is to advance reform under a one-party socialist system. Nevertheless, China will have no choice but to continue its policy of economic reform and opening. 

(Basic Understanding)

1. The current situation is basically an internal affair of China, a country whose political system, social system, and values differ from those of the West, but it is unacceptable that the Chinese government used force to suppress students and civilians calling for democracy, which resulted in many deaths. We have already communicated this to the Chinese side and made it clear externally.

2. The heightened oppression, including executions, has basically taken place within China’s judicial framework, but one cannot deny that China’s image in international society has been greatly damaged by the Chinese government’s recent series of measures, including the strengthening of controls. Japan – which has aided China’s efforts in recent years to advance modernization on the basis of its policy of reform and opening – is deeply concerned.

3. On the other hand, from an overall perspective, it is necessary to consider that China should not be isolated again in the international community.


1. For Western countries, relations with China have to be constrained, but it is inevitable that there will emerge some differences in individual responses, depending on the situation of each Western country (domestic situation, relations to date with China, and such).

2. An explanation regarding Japan’s important economic cooperation with China is as follows:

(1) In regard to projects that we are currently carrying out, there are some that are now interrupted, but we will continue with them while waiting for improvement in the implementation environment.

(2) In regard to new projects, we would like to give careful consideration to how we will respond while taking into account the situation in China.

(United States–China Relations)

1. If relations between the United States and China worsened, a favorable progression in Japan-China relations would be impossible. We are deeply worried over where relations between the United States and Japan are going.

2. In regard to the Fang Lizhi issue, I understand that serious negotiations are taking place between the United States and China. We strongly hope that the US and Chinese sides do not lose sight of the overall situation and that they come to some sort of resolution as soon as possible. Although there have been some loud voices coming from the US Congress, the Government of Japan appreciates the overall restraint and balance of the US Government’s reaction to this situation.

3. Between Japan and the United States, although there are differences in specific policy measures, it would be unacceptable for there to emerge a major divergence in the direction of our respective policies on China. As the situation in China remains fluid, I would like our two governments to continue holding close consultations on this issue at all levels.

(Summit, Other Issue)

1. A lively exchange of views on the situation in China is expected at the July Summit and elsewhere. Rather than the imposition of joint sanctions on the part of the West against China, it would be appropriate to express recognition to the West of the Chinese government’s measures. (If asked for Japan’s thoughts on joint sanctions) Japan, given its basic thinking, mentioned earlier, considers joint sanctions undesirable.

2. China will probably experience future setbacks like this one in the process of its modernization. I think that the key here is for us to avoid overreacting or becoming pointlessly emotional and to patiently keep a close watch on the Chinese side’s situation.

(Question and Answer: Main Points)

(Concerning the return to China of Japanese trading company employees and others)

I have also taken note of this matter. In press conferences and in the Diet, I have called on the companies involved to show restraint. Given the accomplishments to date in Japan-China economic relations, there is certainly an internationally conspicuous aspect to them. The government will continue to convey this thinking to the business community in various ways.

(Question and Answer: Main Points)

(In the event that Japan’s policy is questioned in relation to additional measures against China, which the United States has already taken: (1) the suspension of high-level person-to-person exchanges and (2) calling on international financial institutions to suspend their lending to China)

1. Regarding high-level exchanges between Japan and China, none are planned for the time being.

2. Regarding aid to China from international aid organizations, I would like to carefully consider the matter in taking various circumstances into account. Regarding new projects, in light of the current situation, I think that calling for restraint would be appropriate. In regard to specific measures, we would like to consult with each aid organization separately.

Main points of Japanese Minister’s remarks that took place at Japan-United States Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the situation in China following the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989. It answers key questions on Japan’s policy towards China on diplomacy and economic cooperation along with implications of a deterioration in U.S.-China relations following Tiananmen Square.

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2020-0545, Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs, published online by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Translated by Stephen Mercado.


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