Wen set to visit Japan this spring

By Le Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-15 06:46

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) shakes hands with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao before a bilateral meeting during the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Cebu, Philippines, January 14, 2007. [Reuters]
CEBU, The Philippines: In a sign of warming bilateral relations, Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday accepted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's invitation to visit Japan in spring.

The leaders held a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the East Asian summits in the island resort of Cebu. They are in the Philippines also to discuss trade and other issues with ASEAN members.

Japanese media quoted the country's diplomatic sources as having said that Wen was likely to visit the country in April, but the Chinese Foreign Ministry gave no specifics.

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Sino-Japanese relations are returning to normal, a fact that both sides should appreciate; they should also make greater efforts to keep the diplomatic ball rolling, Wen told Abe at the beginning of the meeting.

He said the improvement in bilateral ties suited the fundamental interests of both countries and was widely welcomed by the international community.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese ties, with next year being the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-Japanese Peace and Friendship Treaty. Both are important opportunities to further develop bilateral ties, and the two sides should deal with them from long-term and strategic perspectives, he said.

Handling of the two countries' historical issues properly is vital for the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, Wen said.

Sino-Japanese relations were strained during former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's five-year term because of his repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Abe visited Beijing his first overseas trip as prime minister in early October shortly after assuming office in September.

During the ice-breaking visit, the two countries agreed to build a strategic relationship of mutual interest, and to resume high-level visits and expand relations by maintaining high-level contacts.

Wen hoped Japan would abide by the principles laid out in the three political documents signed by the Chinese and Japanese governments and keep its promise to avoid straining bilateral relations over the historical issues again.

Abe responded that he had clarified his stance on the historical issues during his visit to China. Japan is ready to follow the principles and spirit laid out in the three political documents, he said.

"We look back on history modestly and we follow the path of a pacifist country" that is Japan's position on historical issues, Abe said.

(China Daily 01/15/2007 page1)

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