Japan's Abe vows to face up to history

By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-04-09 06:49

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) shakes hands with China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao before a bilateral meeting during the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Cebu, central Philippines, January 14, 2007. [Reuters]
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he will face up to history to help improve Sino-Japanese relations.

He made the remarks in an interview with China Central Television (CCTV) which was broadcast yesterday ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan on Wednesday.

Starting with a Chinese greeting Ni Men Hao (How are you), Abe said the China-Japan relationship is one of the most important of bilateral ties for his country; and hoped they could develop into a strategic relationship for mutual benefit.

He said he is looking forward to Wen's visit in spring, a season "when the ice is melting and flowers are starting to blossom", and hopes to visit China this year.

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Abe paid an "ice-breaking" trip to China last October soon after taking office. He met President Hu Jintao and reached agreements that thawed relations chilled by former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine that honors top Japanese World War II war criminals.

Abe said he firmly believes that the "ice" in relations will finally melt when more Chinese people get to know Japan's post-war road of development.

He said he hopes Wen's trip, including the summit meeting, would produce substantive results in various fields such as energy, environmental protection and regional security.

As Wen's visit also coincides with the 35th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations and the Year of Cultural and Sports Exchanges, Abe said he would like to use the opportunity to invite more Chinese people, especially the younger generation, to visit his country and enhance mutual understanding.

Abe said China's development provides a big opportunity to not only Japan, but also Asia and the world at large, citing bilateral trade had hit a record eight years in succession.

The volume of trade between the two countries has increased nearly 200 times from $1.1 billion in 1972, when Sino-Japanese ties were normalized, to $207.4 billion in 2006.

"Such an achievement was unimaginable even 10 years ago," Abe said.

In another development, a survey published yesterday said that most undergraduates in China and Japan regard the other country as an important nation and 37 percent of them are positive about future China-Japan relations.

The survey, jointly conducted by the China's Outlook Weekly and mainstream Japanese newspaper The Daily Yomiuri, polled 1,020 Japanese and 987 Chinese college students in March.

Though a majority of respondents are not satisfied with the current state of relations, 37 percent believe relations will "improve" or "greatly improve" in the future. More than 40 percent think the relations will "remain unchanged".

More than two-thirds of the Japanese undergraduates chose China as Japan's most important partner for economic growth; whereas Chinese students ranked Japan in second place, following the United States.

A majority of both Chinese and Japanese students believe China will become the most influential country in the world. More than half of the Japanese students deemed China would overtake Japan in the next 10 years in terms of GDP.

Xinhua contributed to the story 

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