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Senior Chinese official says Japan ties at new starting point

Senior Chinese official says Japan ties at new starting point

China's often-prickly ties with Japan are at a new starting point and both sides need to seize the chance to improve their relationship, a senior Chinese official said Monday.
State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan said bilateral relations, which took a downturn during former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's time in office, had improved recently.
"It is a common task for both of us to seize the opportunity and consolidate the positive development trend of bilateral relations," Tang said in a meeting with Yohei Kono, the speaker of the Japanese Parliament's powerful lower house.
Koizumi upset Beijing by repeatedly visiting a shrine in Tokyo with strong links to Japan's militarist past. Japan invaded and colonized much of Asia in the past century, and many Chinese harbor bitterness over the ill-treatment they suffered.
Japan and China also have territorial disputes involving underwater oil and gas reserves, and are at odds over Japanese school textbooks which some say whitewash atrocities committed by the country's soldiers in Asia.
But relations have improved since Koizumi's departure, and new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in late September, met President Hu Jintao in Beijing in October in the first summit between the countries in five years.
Tang, a former foreign minister, said high-level visits should be maintained and the countries should "properly handle major sensitive issues such as those involving history and Taiwan so as to avoid another disturbance to the normal development of bilateral relations."
China claims the self-governed island of Taiwan as its own. The two split in 1949 amid civil war. Japan switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing in 1972, but some senior Japanese politicians have upset China by advocating closer links to Taiwan.
Kono took the rare step earlier this year of urging Koizumi to reconsider his annual visit to the Yasukuni Shrine war shrine, warning it could damage Japan's already strained relations with China.
The shrine honors Japan's 2.5 million war dead, including executed war criminals from World War II.
Japanese media reports have said that both Hu and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao could visit Japan next year. They would be the first such visits to Japan by top Chinese leaders since former President Jiang Zemin went to Tokyo in 1998.


Updated : 2020-12-03 22:07 GMT+08:00