Koji Kimura present in Beijing
Photo By: Remy Gros
China and Japan now possess two of the world’s strongest economies.
Both trade with the whole world and importantly with each other but that was not always the situation.
Throughout history there had been conflict and distrust between China and Japan but on Friday 29th September 1972 a joint agreement was signed between the two countries ; a result of a visit to China by Richard Nixon, at the time the President of the United States of America.
Furthermore, table tennis played its part in that agreement, a quite significant part. Perhaps without table tennis the agreement may never have been signed 40 years ago.
Koji Kimura Present
The year 2012 is the 40th anniversary of the agreement and various events are being staged to mark the occasion; table tennis is very much to the fore with Japan’s Koji Kimura, ITTF Executive Vice President, being present to witness the celebrations.
It is very appropriate the extremely modest and dignified Koji Kimura is in Beijing for the anniversary; he played at a time when relations between China and Japan were strained.
Furthermore, he gained notable success; he has four World Championships titles to his credit.
In 1961 he won the Men’s Doubles crown with Nobuya Hoshino, in 1963 the Mixed Doubles in partnership with Kaszuko Ito and again in 1965 with Masako Seiko; then in 1967 alongside Nobuhiko Hasagawa, Hajme Kagimoto, Satoru Kawahara and Mitsuru Kohno, he was member of the outfit who won the Men’s Team title.
Top Class Players
Modestly, Koji Kimura will tell you that in 1967 China did not compete but there were some mighty fine players in action in that tournament; for Sweden Hans Alser and Kjell Johansson, for Germany Eberhard Schöler.
The list goes on and on. I’d have delighted and honoured if I could have just cleaned their shoes!
The Cultural Revolution
It was the time of the so-called Cultural Revolution, a time of isolation for China.
However, times were about to change and table tennis played a major role.
China emerged from the shadows and returned to the global scene. They competed in the World Championships in Nagoya in 1971, a tournament that was to have its own special place in history with China offering the United States delegation an invitation to welcome their country.
The invitation was accepted and on Monday 12th April 1971, players and officials from the United States crossed the border and visited China.
“Ping Pong Diplomacy” was born; the event paved the way for Richard Nixon to visit China; on Tuesday Friday 29th February 1972 in Beijing, he shook hands with Mao Zedong, the Chinese leader.
The scene is set; it is one of peace, harmony, friendship and mutual understanding
Photo courtesy of Jenny Chan
Later in Year Sino-Japanese Signing
Co-operation had been initiated; a direct result was the joint agreement being signed between Japan and China later in the year in September.
Such is the power of the table tennis ball.
Two decades ago in 1992, the 20th anniversary of the agreement was remembered; it has been remembered again in 2012.
In the presence of Uchiro Niwa, the Japanese Ambassador and Tang Jiaxuan, the Chinese State Councillor a three day table tennis tournament commenced on Friday 17th August 2012 in the Olympic Sports Centre in Beijing.
Students Took Part
Over 1,000 students too part over the three days.
Both Japanese and Chinese students were involved in a spirit of competition, harmony and friendship. The events of 1971 and 1972 are for those students happenings to be found in history books; friendship is the watchword, understanding the theme, co-operation the way to move forward.
Peace and Sport
Nine months ago in Doha, we celebrated the Peace and Sport Tournament in November 2011; in August 2012 we celebrate again with the youth of China and Japan setting the example.
Once again the little white ball is playinh it’s a part, small in diameter but big in influence.
Play in Action at the table tennis tournament to commemorate 40 years of understanding
Photo courtesy of Jenny Chan