Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is to launch an official visit to Japan from Wednesday to Friday. As this year also marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties and features the China-Japan Culture and Sports Exchange, the peoples of both nations expect bilateral ties to step onto a higher level.
Friendly exchanges have been the mainstream in the long history of China-Japan interaction. Since the end of World War II, the two neighbors have been more eager to resume their friendship with each other.
From the birth of the People's Republic of China to the early 1970s, Japanese governments had followed the United States and were hostile to China. However, during that period, the wish to normalize ties with China became increasingly intense in many sectors of Japan.
In July 1972, shortly after Kakuei Tanaka was sworn in as Japan's prime minister, he expressed a willingness to promptly normalize ties with China. On Sept. 29, 1972, the two governments signed a Sino-Japanese Joint Statement and the restoration of diplomatic relations came into effect. The statement says, "the Japanese side is keenly aware of Japan's responsibility for causing enormous damage to the Chinese people in the past through war, and deeply reproaches itself."
In the following 35 years, though unpleasant things occurred in bilateral ties from time to time, friendly cooperation has dominated the development of bilateral relations.
Both Japan and China are influential countries in the world. Whether their relations can remain healthy is an important factor affecting regional and global peace and development. In the early 1980s, then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and then Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone reached an agreement that Sino-Japanese friendship was to be the most important issue and above any problems in bilateral ties.
Japan's economic and technological advancement and China's advantage in resources and markets have prompted the two sides to strengthen cooperation more actively, especially after China adopted the reform and opening-up policy. Japan is now China's third-largest trading partner while China has become Japan's second-largest trading partner. The Sino-Japanese trade volume reached 207.36 billion U.S. dollars in 2006, a 200-fold increase over the 1.1 billion dollars in 1972.
Trade cooperation between the two nations has taken many forms including processing, transit and services, and is developing further. Cooperation has not only benefited China's economic growth, but also brought a positive influence to Japan's economy. In Japan's latest round of economic growth, "China's demand" has played an important part.
Trade cooperation between China and Japan has brought significant interests to both sides and has become the base for the stability and development of bilateral ties. Lasting Sino-Japanese friendship is the wish of both peoples and is in line with a historical trend.
Past experiences have proved that the key to the development of bilateral ties depends on the appropriate treatment of historical issues. China and Japan should construct a future-oriented relationship while taking history as a mirror, properly handle principal issues related to the political basis of bilateral ties, boost exchanges and cooperation in all areas, and enrich the contents of strategic, mutually beneficial relations.
The achievement of these goals will not only benefit the peoples of both countries, but also contribute to peace and stability of Northeast Asia and of the whole world as well.