Mending ties main priority for Japan

13:10, April 02, 2011      

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Japan vowed to use diplomacy to tackle "the biggest national crisis in the postwar period" in an annual report on its foreign relations released on Friday.

The topics included repairing ties with China after the ship collision off the Diaoyu Islands last year and strengthening its traditional alliance with the US.

Prefacing the Diplomatic Blue Book 2011, Foreign Minister Takeaku Matsumoto said he would devote himself to diplomacy "in order to overcome the difficult time and attain a resurgence" from the March 11 massive earthquake and tsunami that have crippled northeastern Japan and led directly to the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The blue book noted the urgency with which ties between China and Japan needed to be restored after a Chinese trawler collided with two Japanese Coast Guard vessels off the Diaoyu Islands last September, following which Japanese authorities illegally detained the Chinese captain.

However, relations were hardly improved on Wednesday when seven Japanese civics textbooks for junior high school students, which identify China's Diaoyu Islands and the South Korean Dokdo islets as belonging to Japan, were approved by the Japanese Education Ministry.

Responding to the textbook approval, Jiang Yu, spokeswoman of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said the Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islets have formed an inherent part of Chinese sovereign territory since ancient times, and that any words and deeds that attempt to change this fact are futile.

"Although this is not the first time that the Japanese government has sought to twist historical facts, it will not help improve Sino-Japanese ties and, unlike what Japan recently said in its blue book, the approval of the textbooks will hurt Japan's standing among Chinese people," Gao Hong, deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Friday.

The Chinese government's instant offering of support to Japan during the disasters last month provided a prime opportunity to mend the bilateral relationship, Gao said, adding that the ruling Democratic Party of Japan had badly handled the Diaoyu Islands dispute last year and would require time to adjust its foreign policy in the right direction.

China swiftly put 30 million yuan ($4.5 million) in aid at Japan's disposal after the quake and tsunami and sent an international rescue team to help the recovery efforts. Later, it offered 10,000 tons of gasoline, 10,000 tons of diesel and more material aid to Japan.

The blue book separately called upon China to improve the transparency of its defensive capability buildup and enhanced maritime activities.

Earlier, a Chinese helicopter was reported to have flown very close to a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer over the East China Sea last Saturday, with Japan slamming the maneuver as "extremely deplorable" afterward.

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Source: Global Times
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