--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 9
EDITORIAL: A perfect opportunity for Japan, China to strengthen ties.
On Oct. 10, 1911, a military uprising against China's Qing Dynasty broke out in Wuchang, a city on the bank of the Yangtze River's middle reaches.
The uprising triggered a revolution that overthrew China's last imperial dynasty and established the Republic of China, the first such political system in Asia.
It is called the Xinhai Revolution because 1911 was a "xinhai" year in the sexagenary cycle of the Chinese calendar.
Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary who played a leading role in those events, also called the Chinese Revolution, sought to create a nation based on a political philosophy known as the Three Principles of the People: the principle of nationalism, the principle of civil rights and the principle of people's livelihood.
Although he continued the struggle to realize his political vision, punctuated by strife with Yuan Shi-kai, a general and politician who attempted to become emperor of China, and years of living in exile, Sun didn't live to see the Kuomintang, the nationalist party he founded, consolidate its power and establish a unified government. 孫文は袁世凱との対立、亡命などの苦闘を続けたものの、国民党による統一政権は見ることはできずに世を去った。
As his last words uttered on his deathbed, Sun said, "The revolution has not yet succeeded."
The Kuomintang government, however, lost control of the nation to the Communists in civil war and retreated to Taiwan in 1949.
A century later, the Xinhai Revolution is still celebrated as a glorious moment in Chinese history because it ended more than 2,000 years of monarchic autocracy in China.
The Chinese Communist Party, which has cast itself as "the most solid supporter of the revolution and its most faithful successor," organized a variety of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary with an eye toward future unification with Taiwan.
But the Communist Party has not embraced the principle of civil rights and the separation of powers such as government and legislation advocated by Sun.
The ruling party's failure to adopt these key principles of democracy has been hindering the country's healthy development and created widespread discontent among the Chinese people.
The party cannot claim to be a "faithful successor" to the revolution.
Meanwhile, Taiwan has become a democracy.
The island's democratization has guaranteed the Taiwanese people's freedom of speech.
Some politicians in the opposition camp even argue that Sun, who was born in mainland China, has nothing to do with Taiwan.
The Xinhai Revolution still claims attention in Japan because many Japanese provided broad support to the movement.
Another factor behind Japanese interest in the event is that Chinese who studied in Japan played the central role in the revolution.
But Japan's relationship with China has yet to shake off the damaging effects of a collision in September last year between a Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard vessels off the disputed Senkaku Islands, which triggered a bitter diplomatic row.
When he became prime minister, Naoto Kan said in his policy speech at the Diet that Sun had many Japanese friends who supported his cause.
Kan's reference to Sun's ties with Japan probably reflected his desire to use the centennial of the revolution as an opportunity to start the process of fixing the strained bilateral relations.
Some of the Japanese who supported the Chinese Revolution did so as a selfless, purely altruistic act.
But many of the Japanese who helped the Chinese revolutionaries were ambitious persons driven by prospects of winning monetary gain in China.
The Japanese government at that time adopted an indifferent attitude toward Sun mainly out of consideration to the Qing Dynasty.
Two decades after the revolution, the Manchurian Incident took place.
Japan chose the rule of might instead of the rule of right that Sun called for and invaded China.
Japan cannot hope to build stable, friendly relations with China if it fails to take a hard look at its past behavior and focuses only on the facts concerning the revolution that are convenient to it.
Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the formal diplomatic relationship between Japan and China.
Both the Japanese government and the country's private sector should use the landmark year as an opportunity to launch fresh efforts to build multilayered relations with China for the next 100 years.
We urge China, which has regained its status as a great power, to adopt a future-oriented attitude in its relations with Japan.