In April China's President Hu Jintao will visit Japan, only the second ever visit by a Chinese head of state to Japan. Both parties are enthusiastic about recovering from nearly a decade of tension since President Jiang Zemin's disastrous 1998 visit. Tokyo and Beijing appear ready to place priority on areas of common interest, such as resolving the North Korean nuclear problem, responding the challenge of climate change, coping with economic turmoil, and maintaining peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region. They strive to minimize differences over history and address competition for natural gas that inflames territorial disputes in the East China Sea. Yet other irritants remain, which can flare up to reveal deeper conflicts in national interest and an enduring rivalry for regional preeminence. While optimistic, both sides recall the dashed hopes of the Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development, prepared before Jiang's visit, and are proceeding with "cautious friendliness."
Prior to joining the Henry L. Stimson Center in 1998, Benjamin Self conducted extensive fieldwork in Japan. He spent two years as a visiting research fellow at Keio University in Tokyo on a Fulbright Graduate Research Fellowship. He has lectured at Temple University Japan and interned at the Research Institute for Peace and Security in Japan. Mr. Self has served as a program associate in the Asia Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Mr. Self attended Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his MA, and holds a BA from Stanford University.