Mahathir bin Mohamad believes silence could be the best medicine for fixing ties between Japan and China.
The former Malaysian prime minister said keeping quiet is preferable to Japan and China provoking each other unnecessarily. "Have a moratorium for a period of several years, where you say nothing and they say nothing," he said May 22 of how to achieve a breakthrough in Tokyo-Beijing relations.
Mahathir said China is building military and economic muscle partly because it is being challenged. "I believe that China feels it is being hampered, and the reaction of anybody who is being obstructed is to raise capacity to overcome the obstruction," he said. "I think that is why China came up with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank."
The former prime minister hopes Japanese and Chinese leaders can find ways to resolve their differences over territory and reconcile their divergent interpretations of events in World War II. Cooperation on the AIIB and trade agreements could help. He suggested the moratorium as a temporary measure.
Mahathir said Japan should be "sensitive" to its Asian neighbors as the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, and not be seen bending only to the U.S. Many countries, he noted, still look to Japan for leadership.