Sino-Japanese talks to narrow differences

By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-20 07:20

China and Japan will jointly launch a history study next week in Beijing, the first of its kind.

The move is to narrow differences and improve bilateral ties.

The two sides have each appointed a 10-member team to take part in the two-day meeting, starting from December 26.

Agencies quoted Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki as saying the two teams, comprising scholars in history, international politics and diplomacy, will be headed respectively by Chinese modern history scholar Bu Ping and Japanese former United Nations ambassador Shinichi Kitaoka.

Discussions will be divided between two panels: One will focus on ancient, medieval and early-modern history and the other on modern and contemporary history.

The Chinese experts are either senior researchers with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) or professors with Peking University.

"Japan-China relations have extended for about 2,000 years from ancient times through now," Shiozaki said, "(The joint research) is to promote a more objective understanding of the history through frank discussions."

President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed in October during the latter's visit to Beijing to start a joint history study by the end of the year, aimed at deepening knowledge of the history and enhancing mutual understanding.

China and Japan's foreign ministers later at an APEC meeting exchanged practical ideas on establishing such a joint study, agreeing to release the outcome by the end of 2008

Bu Ping, director of the Institute of Modern History of CASS, said the joint study will be developed into a certain mechanism and will be held regularly in the future.

He said no specific issues will be discussed at the first meeting, instead, it will concentrate on the working process, principles and purposes.

Shinzo Abe met with the 10 Japanese history scholars on Monday. He said such a discussion would be meaningful and of interest to both countries.

Shinichi Kitaoka, now a Tokyo University professor, told Japanese reporters that the current gap in historical interpretations between Japan and China remains too wide and the first task would be to try and narrow it.

Japan has held a similar joint history study with the Republic of Korea, its another close neighbour, which also suffered from Japanese wartime aggressions. It is reported that Tokyo and Seoul have agreed on the need to launch a second round soon.

In another development, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a press briefing yesterday that Chinese leaders have decided to visit Japan next year at the convenience of both sides.

He did not give a date for the visit as it requires further discussions through diplomatic channels.

State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan on Monday told visiting Japanese guests that Chinese leaders have agreed in principle to visit Japan next year.

(China Daily 12/20/2006 page2)

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