China on Saturday again urged Japan to help put bilateral relations back on
the track ahead of a commemoration of the repatriation of 1.05 million Japanese
emigrants in China after World War II.
"We hope Japan will work with China towards the same direction, overcome the
political obstacles and get bilateral relations back on the track of sound
development," Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan said in a meeting with former
Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.
Tang and Murayama met in Huludao City, northeast China's Liaoning Province
ahead of a forum on China-Japan relations scheduled for Sunday, part of the
commemorations marking the 60th anniversary of the repatriation.
On May 7, 1946, nine months after Japan surrendered to the Allies, about
2,500 Japanese emigrants, victims of their country's colonial expansion, began
their voyage home from Huludao, marking the beginning of a repatriation effort
that lasted into 1948.
Limited by shortages of natural resources, Japan turned to a national policy
of emigration and colonization in early last century. Japanese emigration into
China saw a surge since 1931, when the Japanese army occupied the northeast of
By the end of World War II, there were more than 2 million Japanese emigrants
in China, most of whom were farmers in the northeast, according to researchers.
Murayama, who served as Japanese Prime Minister from June 1994 to January
1996, said the repatriation was "a history unknown to most people."
He appreciated Chinese people's humanitarianism shown to the Japanese
"The commemorative events will help people get a correct understanding of the
history and help mend Japan-China ties," Murayama said.
Tang said that to hold such a forum displays "our resolution and belief to
cherish peace, oppose war and promote friendship" and is of great significance
under the current situation.
The Sino-Japanese relations have been soured by Japanese Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan's war
dead, including 14 class A criminals in WWII, are honored.
The leaders of the two countries halted exchange visits after Koizumi's
homage to the war shrine soon after he took office in 2001.
Tang said that China attached great importance to China-Japan ties and
sincerely committed itself to maintaining the friendship between the two
"China would like to make joint efforts with Japan to realize the peaceful
coexistence, lasting friendship and common development between the two
countries," he said.
Chinese President Hu Jintao's recent remarks on improving China-Japan
relations inspired those Japanese who support bilateral friendship, Murayama
said, adding they will make unremitting efforts for Japan-China friendship.
Hu explained China's policy on China-Japan relations on March 31 in a meeting
with the heads of seven Japan-China friendship organizations.
The president pointed out that the major obstacle in China-Japan relations
was Japanese leaders' insistence on visiting the shrine.
Hu said that the Chinese government believed the Japanese people's visits to
the Yasukuni Shrine were different from the leaders', and ordinary Japanese
soldiers who were forced into war were different from the few militarists and
Tang and Murayama will address Sunday's forum, which is sponsored by the
Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the
Liaoning provincial government.