Strained relations over the war-related Yasukuni Shrine issue between China
and Japan have eased, but tensions resulting from China's rise still remain,
China's Ambassador to Japan Wang Yi said in a report published by the Xinhua
News Agency yesterday.
After serious and repeated consultations, China and Japan "have finally
agreed to overcome this political impediment damaging bilateral relations," Wang
said of the Yasukuni Shrine issue.
The shrine in Tokyo honours 14 Class-A war criminals of World War II, with
other war dead, and is considered by China and some other Asian nations as
Japan's past militarism.
"Many of the conflicts and friction in Sino-Japanese relations in recent
years have surfaced over the Yasukuni Shrine issue, but the broader background
is that the national strength of both countries has risen to different degrees,"
the ambassador said. He suggested that some Japanese were having trouble
accepting China's rise.
"A senior Japanese official told me that China's development and rise is a
fact we must face up to. But just as the United States in the 1980s could not
adjust to Japan's rise, now many in Japan are not mentally prepared to accept
China's development," Wang said.
"Truly smoothing China-Japan relations needs time and constant efforts from
Wang highlighted the importance of China-Japan relations, saying "be it in
history, reality or geopolitics, Japan has a unique and important position in
He said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Beijing in October
"broke the political stalemate in bilateral relations and offered a window of
hope for future China-Japan relations".
A month later, Abe met with President Hu Jintao for the second time on the
sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Hanoi, Viet Nam.
The two top-level meetings in two months had significantly promoted bilateral
ties and were widely regarded in Japan as a positive turn in the bilateral
relationship, the Japanese Consul in Hong Kong, Shigekazu Sato was quoted by the
South China Morning Post as saying.
Japanese sentiment towards China has slightly improved, helped partly by
Abe's visit to China, the first in five years, while that towards the Republic
of Korea has continued to worsen, a survey conducted by the Japan's Cabinet
Office has shown.
According to the government poll published last Saturday, 34.3 per cent of
Japanese feel good about China, up 1.9 percentage points from a year earlier,
and 21.7 per cent said the bilateral ties are in good condition, up 2.0 points.
Both figures marked year-on-year decreases in 2004 and 2005.
Wang said to maintain the sound momentum for improving relations between the
two countries, both should consolidate the political basis in bilateral
relations, that is, properly handle such sensitive issues as the wartime history
It is reported the two countries are mulling a
high-level visit by President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao to Japan.