China, Japan launch first-ever joint historical research

Chinese and Japanese historians gathered in Beijing on Tuesday for the first-ever joint historical research to narrow difference between the two countries on historical issues.

Each country appointed a 10-member team to participate in the project, which opened at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

During the two-day close-door meeting, they will discuss the 2,000 years of China-Japan history and modern and post-World War II history.

"Important events such as the Nanjing Massacre and the 'July 7 Incident' are expected to be covered in the research," said Ruan Zongze, a senior researcher at the China Institute of International Studies.

The Chinese team is headed by Bu Ping, director of the CASS Institute of Modern History, and the Japanese team by Shinichi Kitaoka, former deputy Japanese ambassador to the U.N and a professor at the University of Tokyo.

During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's China trip in October, he and Premier Wen Jiabao agreed to begin the research by the end of the year.

The two countries' foreign ministers agreed to release the results by the end of 2008, the 30th anniversary year of the signing of the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

"Historical issues are a major obstacle in China-Japan relations," Bu Ping said, adding "mutual understanding" needed to be a basic principle for the joint study.

He acknowledged the difficulties of reaching a consensus on historical issues between two countries with different experiences of war.

Shinichi Kitaoka, head of Japanese team, previously participated in the joint history study between Japan and the Republic of Korea.

He believed scholars of both sides could narrow differences of their understanding about war through the joint study so as to increase mutual understanding.

The Chinese government considered the joint study of history a "very correct decision", said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang Tuesday.

"It will help both sides properly handle some related matters through dialogue and exchanges, and create a foundation for the bright future of bilateral relations," said Qin.

Source: Xinhua

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