Beijing and Tokyo have agreed to hold talks later this month on natural gas
exploration in the East China Sea and work to set up a meeting between their
foreign ministers at multilateral forums soon in an attempt to thaw their icy
The agreement was reached yesterday, the third and final day of a
Sino-Japanese strategic dialogue in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's
Chinese Deputy Foreign
Minister Dai Bingguo (L) shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Vice
Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi before their talks at the Iikura House in
Tokyo in this February 10, 2006 photo.
Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and his Japanese counterpart,
Shotaro Yachi, headed the two delegations.
During the talks, Dai reiterated President Hu Jintao's remarks on
Sino-Japanese relations made in a meeting with the heads of seven friendship
organizations on March 31, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said
yesterday at a regularly-scheduled press conference in Beijing.
The crux of the problematic ties between the two countries is that Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi insists on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of
the country's past militarism, which has hurt the feelings of Chinese people and
damaged the political foundation of Sino-Japanese relations, Hu told his
"China hopes the two countries can work together to remove the political
barriers in the way of improving and developing bilateral ties," Dai was quoted
Since October 2004, China and Japan have convened four rounds of
consultations on the East China Sea issues, the last taking place in Beijing in
Beijing says it has rights to the gas but Tokyo claims the two countries
should share them. Meetings aimed at resolving the dispute have ended in
Ties between China and Japan have become increasingly strained because of the
gas dispute and, particularly, Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine,
which honours Japan's war criminals of World War II.
China has refused any high-level meeting with Japan for months over the
shrine visits, and there has been no full-fledged summit between Koizumi and a
Chinese leader since 2001.
Japanese media reported on Monday that Tokyo had proposed to Beijing a
meeting between the two foreign ministers on the sidelines of the Asia
Co-operation Dialogue, scheduled for May 23-24 in Doha, Qatar. But Liu said the
meeting depends on further consultations.
Also yesterday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wang Yi said in Tokyo that the
key to mending relations lies in efforts to resolving the differences in how the
two countries perceive history.
"We would be able to overcome a major obstacle if the appropriate steps were
taken with regard to the historical issues," Wang said at a lecture hosted by
the Asian Affairs Research Council.
"This would certainly be an advantage in resolving various other issues and
lead to better Sino-Japanese ties."
Wang hopes a meeting between the two countries' leaders could materialize and
urged both nations to do their parts in this regard.
"It is necessary to have dialogue," he said. "But both sides need to create
an environment conducive for such a meeting to take place."
(China Daily 05/10/2006 page1)