Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday said he expected his Japan visit next
week to be a success, but said that he hoped there would be no further visits to
the Yasukuni shrine by Japanese leaders.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao gives an interview to 16 Japanese
news organizations in Beijing prior to his upcoming visit to Japan, April
4, 2007. [Xinhua]
"I hope to make the visit a success, and really 'melt the ice' in
China-Japan relations," Wen said in a joint interview with journalists from 16
Japanese news organizations.
The interview came ahead of Wen's Japan tour slated for April 11-13, the
first to Japan by a Chinese premier in seven years.
The premier, however, warned against Japanese leaders' visits to Yasukuni
shrine, which has been a key source of tension between China and Japan.
"The shrine visits by individual Japanese leaders over the pastfew years
deeply hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and seriously undermined
China-Japan ties," Wen said. "I hope this will never happen again."
High-level visits between the two countries were suspended for years because
of former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the
shrine honoring 14 class-A WWII criminals.
Wen said China and Japan will draft a joint document during his visit.
"The joint document will spell out the two countries' aspirations to
build a strategic, mutually beneficial relationship, and the meaning and major
tasks involved in this relationship," Wen said.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has a group photo taken with
Japanese journalists in Beijing, April 4, 2007. Premier Wen gave an
interview to 16 Japanese news organizations in Beijing, prior to his
upcoming visit to Japan. [Xinhua]
"This is a significant event, ushering in a new era of China-Japan
This relationship should be based on the principles of enhancing mutual
trust, honoring commitments, seeking common ground and respecting differences,
Wen also proposed China and Japan look to the future, increase exchanges and
consultations and cope with challenges.
Also on Wednesday, Abe said at his official residence he expected Japan and
China to develop strategic, mutually beneficial relations.
"Wen's and Abe's remarks indicate that the two governments have a very
similar agenda," said Jin Xide, a research fellow on Japanese studies at the
China Academy of Social Sciences.
"However, since the political foundation, public sentiments and opinions on
China-Japan relations are relatively fragile, it will be a long and difficult
process to build this relationship," Jin said.
Wen's visit comes at a time when China-Japan ties are improving, boosted by
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ice-breaking China visit last October.
China appreciated the fact that Abe had chosen China as his first overseas
destination when he took office as prime minister last September, Wen said.
"During my tour, I will invite Abe to visit China this year," Wen added.
Wen's visit also coincided with the 35th anniversary of the normalization of
China-Japan relations and the Year of Cultural and Sports Exchanges.
China-Japan trade volume has increased by nearly 200 times from 1.1 billion
US dollars in 1972 to 207.4 billion US dollars in 2006.
The premier disclosed that he and Abe will co-chair a meeting in Tokyo to
launch the high-level economic dialogue mechanism between China and Japan.
Wen also said that President Hu Jintao would visit Japan at a "convenient
time" for both sides.
Wen said he was optimistic about the possibilities of finding solutions to
the East China Sea issue concerning gas field development.
"The two countries have agreed to put disputes aside and jointly develop the
area," he said.
China and Japan held the latest round of talks on the East China Sea in Tokyo
last week, which Wen said were "positive consultations."
"We believe the issue can be resolved by peaceful means as long as we
continue to work together and have more negotiations," Wen said.
On regional issues, Wen touched on the six-party talks on the Korean
Peninsula nuclear issue.
The premier said the six-party talks "will not come to a halt" and pledged
China would continue to promote the process.
China understands and sympathizes with Japan's position on the abduction
issue and is willing to help resolve it, Wen said in the interview.
The interview took place in Zhongnanhai in downtown Beijing where China's top
leaders work and live.
The interview also touched on trade and military exchanges between the two
During Wen's stay in Tokyo, Wen is expected to hold talks with Abe and meet
with Emperor Akihito. He is scheduled to deliver a speech in the Japanese
The three-day tour will also take Wen to the ancient capital of Kyoto, where
he will visit a university.
Wen will visit the Republic of Korea before landing in Japan.