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China confirms Japanese prime minister to make fence-mending visit

China confirms Japanese prime minister to make fence-mending visit

China confirmed Wednesday that Japan's newly installed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Beijing, potentially easing tense relations between the Northeast Asian powers.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao invited Abe to pay a two-day visit to China starting Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its Web site.
Abe announced his intention to make a fence-mending visit to China even before his selection as Japan's prime minister last month, and his supporters had said earlier this week that a trip could happen this weekend. China, however, had refused to confirm a visit until Wednesday's announcement.
"The Chinese and Japanese sides have reached a consensus on overcoming political obstacles that have affected relations and on promoting the healthy development of friendly, cooperative relations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in the statement.
The two countries have not held a formal summit in five years, after China suspended the meetings in protest over recurring visits by Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, to a controversial war shrine in Tokyo.
Though their commercial relations are booming, political ties have deteriorated, buffeted by disputes over offshore oil and gas rights and Japan's desire to assume a greater international role.
For Beijing, visits by Japan's political elite to the Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals are among the war dead enshrined there, symbolize Tokyo's lack of repentance for its brutal occupation of China in the first half of the 20th century.
Chinese leaders sought to wrest from Abe, and Koizumi before him, pledges to forswear visits to the shrine. President Hu Jintao thought he had gained such a promise from Koizumi in 2005, and relations degenerated further when the Japanese prime minister continued his visits.


Updated : 2021-03-01 07:08 GMT+08:00