Hu calls for better Sino-Japanese ties

By Chen Jialu (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-09 07:24

President Hu Jintao yesterday expressed the hope that China and Japan could seize the opportunity of 2007 which marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties to push forward the momentum of improving relations and cement a consensus.

Hu made the remarks yesterday when meeting Akihiro Ota head of Japan's New Komeito Party which is a junior partner in the ruling coalition who is in Beijing as the guest of the Communist Party of China.

The remarks came amid speculation that a Chinese leader, possibly Premier Wen Jiabao, will visit Japan in April, in what is seen as a sign of warming relations.

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Ota told China Daily yesterday that Japan is preparing for a Chinese leader's upcoming visit, but did not reveal details.

Hu said "China will never forget the contribution the New Komeito Party has made to the normalization and development of Sino-Japanese relations".

Chinese analysts believe Ota's visit will inject vigor into Sino-Japanese relations, which experienced their worst period during the five-year term of former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, which ended in September last year.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China last October -- his first overseas trip after he took office saw a thaw in relations.
Ping-pong diplomacy broke the ice in the Sino-US relationship during the early 1970s and now the national sport could help warm the thawing ties between China and Japan.

Hu's meeting with the visiting Japanese delegation indicates that China values the ties with its neighbor, and the visit was conducive to enhancing mutual political trust, said Wang Shan, a researcher with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

"The ruling coalition party visiting China will have a positive impact on the Abe cabinet's foreign policy toward China and can help prevent the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from treading the old path which undermined relations," Wang said.

"The high-level exchanges between the two parties will create a favorable political atmosphere for the two nations to improve relations and can help remove political obstacles," said Jin Xide, deputy director with the Institute of Japanese Studies affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

(China Daily 01/09/2007 page1)

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