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Japanese PM ends "spring herald" China tour
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15:56, December 30, 2007

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Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda left Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province, Sunday afternoon, wrapping up his four-day China tour, which was seen as a "herald of spring" for China-Japan ties.

"It is sure that Japan and China can contribute more to Asia and the world at large if we cooperate with each other," Fukuda said in an interview at the airport.

He pledged to further enhance mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries. "We have the responsibility to cement our ties."

Vice Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi and Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cui Tiankai as well as local officials in Shandong saw him off at the airport.

"My visit to China this time is very meaningful. I had in-depth discussions with Chinese leaders," Fukuda said Sunday morning after visiting the Temple of Confucius in Qufu, the hometown of the ancient Chinese philosopher.

This is Fukuda's first China tour since he took the office of Japanese PM in September.

During his stay in Beijing, he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and top legislator Wu Bangguo, respectively, and held talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

The two sides agreed that President Hu will pay a visit to Japan next spring, which will be the first visit to Japan by Chinese head of state in 10 years after former Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Japan in 1998.

During Wen and Fukuda's talks, the two reached new consensus on the East China Sea issue. The two sides have elevated the consultation to the vice-ministerial level and will continue to make efforts to seek workable solutions.

Fukuda stated four "no" on the Taiwan issue, saying Japan would give no support to the claims of "one China, one Taiwan", "Taiwan independence" or Taiwan authorities' attempts to join the United Nations and to seek UN membership through "referendum".

He said Japan would "very earnestly" reflect on the "agonizing part of history" and continue to follow the path of peaceful development so as to establish "forward-looking China-Japan relations".

Aside from talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing, Fukuda also delivered a speech at Beijing University, played baseball with Premier Wen and visited a primary school.

Fukuda arrived in Shandong province on Saturday afternoon from Tianjin, where he visited a factory of Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co. Ltd.

Fukuda told reporters Sunday morning his visit to the hometown of Confucius left him "deep impression".

The visit demonstrated "the common cultural background between the Chinese people and Japanese people," said Mitsuo Sakaba, press secretary of Japanese foreign minister.

Confucius is a philosopher admired by both peoples in China and Japan. The works of Confucius, especially the Analects of Confucius, a book compiling his life-long teachings, are quite popular in Japan.

Fukuda is the first incumbent Japanese prime minister that visited the hometown of Confucius. Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama who served in the position in mid-1990, visited Qufu in 2002.

His China trip is another important step to boost bilateral ties, following the "ice-breaking" visit by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in October last year and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's "ice-thawing" trip to Japan in April.

China is Fukuda's third overseas destination as prime minister besides the United States and Singapore.

Source: Xinhua

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