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Changchun, China: The City of the Last Emperor of China has Deep Historical Ties with Japan

Hideyuki Sassa

Changchun Office, Sumitomo Corporation (Shanghai) Limited


Japan and China marked the 45th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties in 2017, and the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China in 2018. Meetings between the leaders of the two countries resumed in third countries in 2017, leading to stronger mutual ties and a rapid improvement in Sino-Japanese relations.

Located in northeastern China at roughly the same latitude as Asahikawa City in Hokkaido, Changchun is the capital of Jilin Province, and has a population of around 7.5 million people (2008).

During the days of the Manchukuo puppet state of the Empire of Japan, Changchun was known as Hsinking (Xinjing: new capital), and was home to Puyi, the Last Emperor of China.



Evidence of the depth of the historical relationship with Japan is provided by the large number of buildings remaining from those days. They include the Museum of the Imperial Palace of Manchukuo (formerly Emperor Puyi's palace), the Communist Party Headquarters of Jilin (formerly the Kwangtung Army Headquarters), and the Chunyi Hotel (formerly the Yamato Hotel). The city still makes use of the infrastructure built at the time, including the water supply reservoir, the sewerage system, and the main roads.

China FAW Group Corporation, the country's largest automobile manufacturing company, was established there after the war. It subsequently took on foreign partners such as Toyota, Mazda, Volkswagen and Audi through joint ventures and technical tie-ups. As this, in turn, attracted numerous automobile parts manufacturers, Changchun developed into an industrial city centered on automobiles.

It has also become a center for manufacturing rolling stock for China's rapidly expanding high-speed rail network, transforming it into a monozukuri (manufacturing) city.



At the same time, it is known as a focal point for science, technology and culture because it is home to many universities, science laboratories, and cultural facilities. The presence of Jilin University, the Northeast Normal University and other famous educational institutions has also won it a name as the "city of education."

Since Changchun aspires to further development, it has high expectations of Japan. The Governor of Jilin Province and the Jilin Province Communist Party Secretary visited Japan in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The PR efforts in Japan of these leaders on behalf of the provincial government are doing much to improve the business environment for representatives of Japanese business in Jilin.

Food is one of the joys of representatives of Japanese companies around the world, but the mainstay northeast China cuisine of the region has a rather heavy, rich taste, which is unfamiliar to the Japanese. Yet once you get used to them, its famous boiled gy¨­za and matsutake mushrooms, washed down with baijiu (a grain liquor whose alcohol content is 50% by volume) or Jilin wine are more than enough to satisfy your appetite.

I would invite anyone with an interest in history to visit Changchun, but one slight problem is the fact that there are only two direct flights between Japan and Changchun each week. One suggestion would be to take one of the many direct flights from Japan to Dalian, which also has deep historical connections with Japan, then take the high-speed train to Changchun. That way, you can enjoy the attractions of both cities in one trip. We look forward to seeing you!