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China, Japan launch study group to bridge differences on war history

China, Japan launch study group to bridge differences on war history

Chinese and Japanese history scholars met Tuesday for the first in a series of government-mandated study groups aimed at smoothing over sharp differences between the Asian superpowers on historical issues.
Japan invaded and colonized much of Asia in the past century, and many Chinese harbor bitterness over the ill-treatment they suffered. China says Japan has yet to adequately atone for its wartime aggression and has expressed outrage over Japanese leaders' visits to a Tokyo war shrine that honors war dead.
The scholars _ 10 each from China and Japan _ opened the two-day study group in Beijing late Tuesday. The sessions are to be held twice a year through 2008.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said ahead of the talks that they were aimed at helping both sides "correctly understand the accurate historical facts and lay a solid foundation for better future China-Japan relations."
The two sides were to discuss ties over the last 2,000 years, with particular focus on their "unfortunate modern history," Qin said.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi upset Beijing by repeatedly visiting Yasukuni Shrine, which has strong links to Japan's militarist past. The shrine honors Japan's 2.5 million war dead, including executed war criminals from World War II.
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 Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing in October in the first summit between the countries in five years.
Hu on Tuesday told a visiting Japanese finance official that the improvement of Sino-Japanese ties was good for both sides and would benefit the "peace, stability, and development of Asia and the world," state media said.
Hu told Kono Yohei, chairman of the Japan Association for the Promotion of International Trade, that China was willing to work with Japan on "sensitive issues" that have hindered ties, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.


Updated : 2021-05-07 19:28 GMT+08:00