CHINA / National

Japan urged to respond in kind to mend ties
Updated: 2006-04-07 08:52

China on Thursday said it hoped Japan will respond in kind to its positive messages which were delivered with sincerity and goodwill.

"The Chinese government has conveyed a clear message to Japan. We hope China's sincerity, goodwill and positive messages will be well received and result in a reciprocal response from Japan," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a regular press briefing.

Last Friday, Chinese President Hu Jintao had a rare meeting with the heads of seven Japan-China friendship organizations, led by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. At the meeting Hu reiterated China's stance on promoting China-Japan friendship and the Yasukuni Shrine issue.

Hu told the Japanese visitors that he was ready to hold talks with Japanese leaders as soon they made a clear-cut decision not to pay further visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 convicted class-A war criminals from World War II.

So far no positive response has come from the Japanese leaders.

Liu said Japanese leaders' repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine damaged the political foundation of China-Japan ties. "To clear up this obstacle and thus improve bilateral ties is the common aspiration of the two countries' people and serves their basic interests."

Liu reviewed the history of China-Japan relations, saying that people of the two countries, for the most part, are friendly to each other and got along well.

"We don't think it is the Japanese people who should be blamed (for the strained relations), because most Japanese favor China-Japan friendship," he said.

Liu said the Chinese and Japanese governments are obligated to respect the common wishes of their peoples and take positive measures to improve relations for their benefit.

He said the development of ties between China-Japan has a direct impact on the interests of the region and the world. "The Chinese government highly values ties between China and Japan and has made consistent efforts to improve them."

He also described the history issue as "an important political cornerstone" for China-Japan relations, saying that it is not onlyfound in China-Japan political documents such as the Sino-JapaneseJoint Statement, the Peace and Friendship Treaty, and the Sino-Japanese Joint Declaration, but also in the feelings of the Chinese and Japanese peoples.

Liu referred to Hu's meeting with leaders of the seven Japanesefriendship organizations, saying that Hu had reiterated that Chinawill continue to follow the principles of the three political documents and to handle the problems between the two countries through consultations on an equal footing to maintain China-Japan friendship.

The leaders of the two countries have not held an exchange visit in four years, ever since Koizumi began paying homage at theYasukuni Shrine soon after he took office in 2001.