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Japan's Prime Minister Fukuda returns home after relationship-warming trip to China

Japan's Prime Minister Fukuda returns home after relationship-warming trip to China

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda returned home from China on Sunday after a symbolically important visit that indicated warming relations between Asia's most powerful nations.
The four-day trip was Fukuda's first to China since he became prime minister in September, and was the latest sign of improved ties between the countries _ which often squabble over territory, resources and wartime history.
Fukuda visited the birthplace of the Chinese philosopher Confucius before heading home. The stop in the northeastern city of Qufu demonstrated "the common cultural background between the Chinese people and Japanese people," said Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mitsuo Sakaba. The teachings of Confucius influenced both countries' cultures in ancient times.
"I feel that it is not at all good for this region or, for that matter, the world when the two do not have a cooperative relationship, so I want to work on cooperation," he told reporters in Qufu.
Visiting the Temple of Confucius, Fukuda stopped to write Chinese calligraphy _ the words "reviewing the past to create something new" _ on a scroll.
Fukuda's visit builds on warming ties after Japan's then-prime minister, Shinzo Abe, visited China in October 2006.
Japan's previous leader, Junichiro Koizumi, had infuriated Beijing by visiting a Japanese shrine that commemorates the country's war dead, including some war criminals.
During Fukuda's visit, the two countries signed agreements on cooperating to fight climate change and on increasing youth and professional exchanges.
Japan hopes to set up 10 energy-saving and environmental technology centers in China next year. Sakaba said the facilities will help match Chinese companies seeking environmental technology with Japanese companies that can provide it. Japan will also train 10,000 Chinese environmental experts over the next three years.
During Fukuda's visit, the two countries concluded arrangements for China's President Hu Jintao to travel to Japan during its cherry blossom season around April 2008 _ the first such trip by a Chinese head of state in 10 years.
Japan said it hopes to resolve a long-running disagreement with China over a natural gas field in disputed East China Sea waters by the time Hu visits. There was, however, no concrete agreement during Fukuda's visit on the issue, and none had been expected.
Instead, the two sides agreed to raise the level of negotiations over the dispute, and to work on an agreement to jointly develop resources in the East China Sea.
Officials also discussed North Korea and intellectual property rights.
Fukuda held talks with Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao. At Peking University in Beijing, he delivered a speech that was broadcast live across China.
In the speech he said China and Japan "should become creative partners to build a better Asia and world."
Fukuda also tossed a baseball with Wen. Wearing baseball uniforms, the two played catch after a breakfast meeting. They laughed, joked and chased stray balls as journalists and a half-dozen Chinese players looked on.
On Sunday, Fukuda flew back to Japan from the eastern city of Jinan.


Updated : 2021-02-26 00:23 GMT+08:00