China Reform Friendship Medal Recipient: Masayoshi Ohira, a name forever remembered by Chinese people
Updated 14:09, 21-Dec-2018
CGTN

Masayoshi Ohira, a Japanese politician and the 43rd Prime Minister of Japan from December 7, 1978, to June 12, 1980, was posthumously conferred with China Reform Friendship Medal at a conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up in Beijing on Tuesday.

Deng Xiaoping once said China lost a good friend due to Mr. Masayoshi Ohira's death. Even though he passed away, the Chinese people will remember his name.

Build a bridge of friendship between China and Japan

In September 1972, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ohira joined the then Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka during a trip to China, which marks the beginning of normalization of relations between China and Japan.

In the negotiation process of restoring diplomatic relations, Ohira's sincere efforts played a crucial role in promoting the process.

At that time, one of the focal points of the disputes between the two sides was the history of Japan's invasion of China. At a time of stalemate, Ohira strived for an opportunity to talk deeply with then Chinese Foreign Minister Ji Pengfei.

He expressed that he understood Chinese government's stance and interests, and he and his government are willing to make maximum concessions at the risk of own political life even physical life to facilitate the two sides to reach an agreement.

The sentence that "the Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself," proposed by Ohira was finally written into the Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China.

It was a period when many political factions and struggles were existing in Japan. The opposition forces were extremely dissatisfied with Ohira's statement, and Ohira was indeed under tremendous pressure.

Later, it was known that before visiting China Ohira even left his wife a will.

Support reform and opening-up, promote bilateral ties

In December 1979, Ohira visited China again as Prime Minister of Japan to discuss how to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

Deng recalled it was his conversation with Masayoshi at that time that enlightened him to raise the idea of "xiaokang society."

During the meeting, Ohira talked of the great relish of his plan to "double Japan's economic growth in a decade" and then asked Deng, "What does the overall modernization blueprint for China look like?"

Hearing this unexpected question, after meditating in perfect silence for a while, Deng answered unhurriedly: "The Four Modernizations we are striving for is Chinese-style modernization. Our concept of Four Modernizations is not like your concept of modernization. Our concept is (the life) of a 'xiaokang family.'"

Meanwhile, Japan started its ODA to China in 1979 when Ohira expressed in Beijing Japan's intention to help China's economic development and modernization in responding to China's reform and opening-up.

This was also the first intergovernmental loan China accepted after the reform and opening-up.

With no strings attached, the long-term loans with low-interest rate were a vital source of foreign exchange for China, which was then facing fund shortage and was in the process of reform and opening-up.