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Tokyo's ex-ambassador to Beijing says Sino-Japanese ties 'bleeding'
Public diplomacy is "badly needed" to open more communication channels between China and Japan, veteran Japanese diplomats told China Daily on Monday.
The current relationship between the two countries is like a human body that is "bleeding", said Yuji Miyamoto, Japanese ambassador to China from 2006 to 2010.
Tang Jiaxuan (right), head of the China-Japan Friendship Association and former State councilor, hold talks with Yoichi Masuzoe, visiting president of Japan’s New Renaissance Party on Monday at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. Sheng Jiapeng / China News Service
"To stem the blood flow and recover" is a top priority, he said.
Sino-Japanese ties have been strained since the Japanese government illegally "nationalized" China's Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea last September.
The former ambassador noted that people-to-people exchanges have experienced a major slump, and direct communications in the civilian sphere are "extremely inadequate".
Miyamoto made the remarks on the same day that Tang Jiaxuan, head of the China-Japan Friendship Association and former State councilor, held talks with Yoichi Masuzoe, visiting president of Japan's New Renaissance Party.
Masuzoe, who was Japanese minister of health, labor and welfare from 2007 to 2009, shared views with Tang regarding the current situation.
Yasushi Akashi, former under secretary-general of the United Nations, said such delegations are "definitely helpful".
These non-governmental exchanges and dialogues will "eventually lead to improvement on the official, governmental" dimension, said the veteran UN diplomat on peacekeeping and disarmament affairs.
January witnessed visits to China by a series of prominent Japanese figures, including former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of Japan's New Komeito Party, a junior ruling coalition partner, also visited Beijing in a bid to open a channel of communication.
Former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama arrived in Beijing later in the same month.
Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation and Fujio Cho, chairman of the Japan-China Economic Association, visited China on March 21.
"As they say, 'One sparrow will not make the spring', so many sparrows have to come. And I hope many Chinese sparrows will also visit Japan," Akashi said.
Compared with last September when there was a "serious crisis", Akashi said now "things are beginning to improve, but I think there is much potential for great improvement by the efforts of both Japan and China".
A major conflict is "never an option" for both nations to resolve the islands dispute, the veteran diplomats suggested.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty, which clearly stated both sides' determination to seek a peaceful resolution to sensitive issues.
"Both bilateral documents and the UN Charter have made clear the need to resolve disputes through peaceful dialogue, and there is no space for resorting to armed forces," said Miyamoto, the former ambassador. As for the most important way to resolve the current standoff between the two largest Asian economies, Akashi, the former UN diplomat, said the islands issue should be discussed by both sides with "cool minds".
"We have to develop this state of mind, which is rational, which is cool-headed, and we have to avoid armed conflicts by all the necessary means," Akashi said.
Beijing dismissed Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera's claim in early February that a Chinese navy vessel had "locked its fire-control radar" on a Japanese destroyer in the East China Sea in late January. Yasushi Kudo, representative of Japan's Genron NPO think tank, suggested that communication be boosted between Beijing and Tokyo to enhance the bilateral capacity to manage crises.
Unexpected conflicts may result from misjudgment and misunderstandings, and it is urgent to improve communications between Beijing and Tokyo to avoid misunderstandings of each other's intentions, Akashi said.