Japan and China are likely to restart their military education exchanges after a six-year hiatus, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun reported on its website on Monday.
Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono paid his first visit to China last week and the two sides agreed to take the opportunity of the 40th conclusion anniversary of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship to further improve bilateral relations.
Japan repeatedly sounded China out on its attitude about the possibility of restarting the military education exchanges through the dialogues between the defense departments of the two countries, and China lately has expressed its intention of resuming personnel exchange, at present, related departments of the two countries are making arrangements for the exchange program schedule, and China is very likely to dispatch personnel to attend the 66th general course at Japan's National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS), a 10-month program which will start in September, Yomiuri Shimbun quoted people involved as saying.
Since Japan unilaterally announced to nationalize the Diaoyu Islands and its affiliated islands in September 2012, the China-Japan relations have become increasingly chilled, and Chinese military has suspended education exchange with the Japanese side. If the exchange mechanism can be restarted, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will, after six years, resume sending its officers to study at the Japanese defense educational institutions.
The exchange of military education between China and Japan can be dated back to February 1998 when General Chi Haotian, the then China's defense minister, held a meeting in Tokyo with the then Japanese defense chief Fumio Kyūma, both sides unanimously agreed to promote research exchanges between Japan's National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) and China's National Defense University (NDU). The bilateral exchange program for military officer students started in 2003 after rounds of consultations.
Lieutenant Colonel Meng Fanming was enrolled into the NIDS in September 2003 to attend the 51st general course program. The 38 year-old Meng was China's first active duty military officer to study in Japan and he was also the youngest among international students in the 51st general course of NIDS. Mneg's research area is "the consolidation and development tendency of Japan - US alliance."
The World News Journal sponsored by China Radio International (CRI) reported in 2007 that there were three main military exchange channels between China and Japan. The first was the exchange program between China's NDU and the NIDS of Japan; the second was the exchange program between the General Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the National Defense Medical College of Japan; the third was the mutual visit program for young military officers funded by nongovernmental institutions.
Among them, the young military officers exchange program was confirmed with the financial support of Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund and the proactive cooperation of China Institution for International Strategic Studies(CIISS). All the delegations of young military officers from the two countries were arranged to visit front line troops, which created great opportunities for young military officers from the two countries to enhance mutual understanding and establish mutual trust.
Yasukazu Hamada, the then Japanese defense minister, visited China in March 2009. During his visit, the defense departments of the two countries reached ten consensuses, and the tenth one was that two sides agreed to promote exchange between China's NDU, the PLA Academy of Military Science and the NIDS of Japan, and exchange between PLA University of Science and Technology, PLA Dalian Naval Academy and Japan's National Defense Academy, to strengthen communication and exchange between research and education institutions of the two sides. However, the development momentum of academic exchange between the two militaries was interrupted following the "nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands" by Japan.
Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said earlier that the China-Japan defense relationship is an important and sensitive component of relations between the two countries. China hopes that the two sides will continue to carry out exchange and cooperation, enhance mutual understanding and manage divergences through dialogues, so as to create favorable conditions for the continuous improvement of China-Japan relations, Wu said.