Wu calls for better Japan ties
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-09-26 10:35

Vice-Premier Wu Yi yesterday urged Japan to make constructive efforts to remove political obstacles dogging bilateral ties.

The call came as Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, who has been elected president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is set to succeed outgoing Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister at a special session of parliament today.

Chilly political ties between the two countries have had a negative impact on bilateral co-operation in various fields, Wu told Nikai Toshihiro, visiting Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister.

China attaches importance to developing friendly relations with Japan, she said, expressing hope the two sides could work together to promote China-Japan friendship.

Regarding China and Japan as crucial and close neighbours, the vice-premier said developing stable and long-range good-neighbourly ties meets the fundamental interests of the two countries as well as the two peoples.

Also yesterday, China and Japan continued their sub-cabinet talks in Tokyo, as part of their sixth round of strategic dialogue for improving ties.

The talks, which concluded on Sunday, were led by Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi.

Details were not released, but speculation has been rife that the talks were trying to pave the way for a summit between leaders of the two Asian neighbours, possibly a meeting between President Hu Jintao and Abe in Hanoi on the sidelines of November's meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders.

The previous round of the strategic dialogue was held in Beijing and the southwestern Chinese city of Guiyang in May last year.

Relations between China and Japan are at their worst in decades. China has refused to hold a leaders' summit with Koizumi because of his repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, seen by China and some other Asian nations as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Beijing has urged Tokyo to remove "political obstacles" in Sino-Japanese relations, referring to the Yasukuni issue.

Abe has defended Koizumi's visits to the shrine, where 14 class-A World War II criminals were honoured. However, he has declined to say whether, as prime minister, he would visit.

Dai also met with Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso yesterday. Aso, a runner-up in the party election last week, is likely to remain in the post when Abe announces his new cabinet today.

Also yesterday, Abe appointed 62-year-old conservative Hidenao Nakagawa as secretary-general of the LDP, the second highest post.

"Sentiment has begun to get more positive. I think Japan-China relations will improve. It is important for both countries to make an effort to realize a summit by the end of this year," Nakagawa was quoted by the French news agency AFP as saying.

(China Daily 09/26/2006 page1)