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Home >> China
UPDATED: 10:18, October 05, 2006
Japanese PM to visit China
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will pay an official visit to China from Oct. 8 to 9, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao announced on Wednesday.

"China and Japan reached a consensus on overcoming the political obstacle to the bilateral relationship and promoting the sound development of bilateral friendly and cooperative relationship," Liu said.

"Accordingly, at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will pay an official visit to China from October 8 to 9," the spokesman said.

Sino-Japanese relations have been soured by former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan's war dead, including 14 class-A war criminals in WWII, are honored.

The leaders of the two countries halted the exchange of visits since Koizumi paid a homage to the war shrine in 2001.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said in March this year at a meeting with the heads of seven Japan-China friendship organizations that the difficult situation in China-Japan relationship was not caused by the Chinese side or the Japanese people.

The sticking point was that the major obstacle in China-Japan relationship was Japanese leader's insistence on visiting the shrine, Hu said.

China always values its relationship with Japan, considering it one of the important bilateral relations in the world, he said. The Chinese side has made unswerving efforts to improve China-Japan relations.

The president said China's stance on its relationship with Japan is "clear", "consistent" and "unswerving."

China will, as it always does, handle China-Japan relationship from a strategic and long-term point of view and is committed to China-Japan peaceful coexistence, long-term friendship, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development, he said.

The Chinese side will abide by the principles set in the three Sino-Japanese political documents, continue to "take history as a mirror and look into the future," and properly settle the problems between the two sides through equal consultations, and maintain China-Japan friendship, said Hu.

Abe won a landslide victory in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election on Sept. 20, and was elected new Prime Minister on Sept. 26.

He has pledged to improve relations with Japan's Asian neighbors, but refused to say whether or not he would visit the shrine as prime minister.

Abe said Monday that on the view of Japan's wartime history, he will follow the 1995 statement made by the then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama who apologized and expressed remorse for Japan's colonial rule and atrocities before and during the war.

Abe also said that Japan had accepted the results of the International Military Tribunal of the Far East that convicted 14 Japanese wartime leaders as war criminals.

"The visit may signal a thaw in chilled China-Japan relations, " said Qin Yaqing, deputy president of Chinese Foreign Affairs University.

As China is the first country that Abe will visit since he took office in late September, this demonstrates "the new Japanese leadership's wish to break the stalemate and take the visit as a turning point to mend ties," Qin said.

"Other Asian countries would like to see the positive development of the China-Japan relations," said Ruan Zongze, deputy head of the China Institute of International Studies.

Improved China-Japan relations will help promote the integration of Asia, Ruan said. "As major economic powers in Asia and the world, China and Japan will help usher in an era of fast progress of Asian integration if the two countries join hands."

Xu Dunxin, who served as Chinese Ambassador to Japan between 1993 and 1998, said he was "prudently optimistic" about the prospect of China-Japan relations.

"Abe's visit can not resolve all the problems in bilateral ties as the problems are complicated and protracted," Xu said.

However, Abe's visit will open a channel for the leadership of the two countries to exchange and communicate, and lay a groundwork for further discussion, Xu said.

"The visit itself is a positive result," the former ambassador said, adding that the crux lies in Abe's actual actions to improve Japan's relationship with Asian neighbors.

Source: Xinhua

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