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Islands are root of tension

(China Daily)

08:20, March 22, 2013

Tang Jiaxuan (right), former State councilor and head of the China-Japan Friendship Association, meets visiting chairman of the Japan Business Federation Hiromasa Yonekura in Beijing on Thursday. [ZHANG WEI / China Daily]

The Diaoyu Islands are the root of tension in Sino-Japanese ties, former State councilor Tang Jiaxuan told visiting business leaders from Japan on Thursday.

The delegation is the first of leading Japanese business figures to visit China since the new leadership was unveiled in Beijing last week.

The group is led by Fujio Cho, chairman of the Japan-China Economic Association, and includes Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Association.

Tang began his talk by telling the guests he was delighted at their arrival, particularly at a time when China-Japan ties are so strained.

"The two countries are neighbors of great significance to each other, and the Chinese have not changed their commitment to the development of China-Japan relations," said Tang, a veteran diplomat who now chairs the China-Japan Friendship Association.

Sino-Japanese ties were damaged after the Japanese government illegally "purchased" parts of China's Diaoyu Islands in September, a major provocation that prompted huge protests in China.

As for Japan, "the only way out" of the situation lies in Japan's efforts to "face up to history and reality", Tang said.

An effective way should be found to properly manage and solve the problems through dialogue and negotiation, Tang added.

LyuYaodong, director of the department of Japanese diplomacy at the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the visit proved that "communication between the countries in the economic sphere is normal".

"Whether ties can get back on track depends on the Japanese government's sincerity, which needs to be tested," Lyu said.

The Japanese guests told Tang that a healthy, stable development of ties "matters to the prosperity and stability of Asia and the world".

Gao Hong, Party chief of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the CASS, said Beijing's reception of the visiting Japanese business delegation also "sent a positive signal" to everyone in Japan, especially to entrepreneurs.

"But it is not that easy to restore China-Japan relations overnight," Gao said.

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