Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ice-breaking visit to China in October signaled that political crisis has been overcome in the Sino-Japanese ties and a bright future is unfurled, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wang Yi said in a recent interview.
As a result of the wrongheaded annual visit by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the Yasukuni Shrine in the past five year-odd period, the bilateral relations, whose political crisis had been undermined, have plummeted to the lowest point since China and Japan resumed diplomatic ties in the 1970s, Wang pointed out in the exclusive interview with Xinhua.
The Yasukuni shrine honors 14 Class-A war criminals along with about 2 million Japanese war dead. Visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders have been the primary stumbling block in the Sino-Japanese relationship.
Abe made an official visit to China less than two weeks after assuming power in September, becoming the first postwar Japanese prime minister who chose China as the destination of the first overseas trip.
Praising Abe for breaking the political deadlock and opening a window of hope, the ambassador said the visit represented a significant step in the process of improving and developing Sino-Japanese relations.
Through the visit, normal communications between leaders from the two countries were resumed, the mutual-trust rebuilding process was started, and overall directions of the development of bilateral ties was affirmed, he said.
Talking about the prospect of bilateral ties, Wang said "the Sino-Japanese relations are witnessing obvious improvement and a momentum of development in all fields."
Japanese parliament leaders, cabinet ministers and leaders of major political parties have visited or are planning to visit China, bilateral military exchanges have been resumed, and cooperation in various fields is being planned, he said.
The ambassador cited as an example the Chinese Cultural Festival that was warmly welcomed in Japan. Its opening ceremony was attended by Japanese royal figures, senior government officials, parliament leaders and more than 70 lawmakers as well as social celebrities.
The official and unofficial activities have shown the bilateral relationship could be rejuvenized as long as political obstacles are removed, and appropriate political judgement could lead to a win-win situation, he said.
In order to keep the hard-won momentum moving forward and put the bilateral ties back on the track of sound development, a number of issues should be addressed seriously and properly, such as those on history and Taiwan, the people's feeling toward each other and the expansion of cooperation, he said.
Responding to the question about Japan's status in China's overall foreign affairs strategy, Wang said China sees big countries as critical and considers neighbors as primary.
Therefore, as a big country and a neighbor of China, Japan is undoubtedly an important factor which needs to be taken into account while China devises its macro diplomacy.
"Japan is one of China's vital economic and trade partners. The trade volume between the two countries is expected to exceed 200 billion U.S. dollars this year, reaching the level of that between China and the European Union. China and Japan have formed an inseparable mutually beneficial and win-win economic relationship, " Wang said.
"Japan is also a good model for China, because a lot of problems China are currently facing are those Japan has experienced and solved," he added.
"Historically, realistically and geopolitically, Japan's role is unique and critical in China's broad diplomatic strategy," the ambassador said.
He pointed out that a mutually beneficial Sino-Japanese relationship is crucial to a harmonious, cooperative and open Asia. It is also a common historic mission as well as the most important common interest shared by both countries.
There is no rivalry for dominance in the Sino-Japanese cooperation in Asia, Wang said, citing the complementarity between China and Japan.
"Japan boasts abundant capital, advanced technologies and management expertise, while China is relatively rich in market, human resources and well-established industrial capabilities," he said.
Wang regarded promoting mutual understanding between the people of the two countries as a topic of great significance. He called for the expansion and strengthening of exchanges in all sectors, so as to deepen mutual understanding and trust.