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China-Japan ties can be stronger: Director of Genron NPO

Updated: 2013-10-26 15:06
By Mo Jingxi and Wu Jiao (

When Toshihiro Soejima, director of Genron NPO, began his annual fund-raising efforts for the Beijing-Tokyo forum this year, he said he had "worries that we won't be supported by companies" this year.

He did have a reason for his pessimism for the forum, which is co-sponsored by the non-profit Genron NPO and China Daily newspaper in China every year.

China-Japan ties can be stronger: Director of Genron NPO

Relations between Asia's two giant neighbors have been hit hard by their territorial dispute since September of last year, with polls finding that mutual goodwill has dropped to a record low for the past decade.

But the result turned out just the opposite:

"Actually many companies, about 50, supported us to attend the forum. Even 1-2 more than last year," Soejima told China Daily Saturday on the sidelines of the 9th Beijing-Tokyo Forum.

According to Soejima, last year around 48 companies participated, but it is about 50 this year.

"It means that although the companies in Japan are worried about the current political difficulties between China and Japan, they believe a good relationship between the two countries is very important," Soejima said. "The private companies, as well as many companies, many people strongly hope that the relationship will be improved."

"Their common expectation is a smooth, friendly relationship, that's all, nothing special," he said.

As a former businessman, Soejima has his own understanding of the China-Japan grassroots' ties.

Annual polls done by Genron NPO and China Daily, the two forum sponsors, during the past several years show that mutual goodwill has dropped to a record low for the past decade.

According to Soejima, in his opinion, probably 99 percent of the Japanese nation don't think that China is a threat.

"Maybe one percent, politicians, may feel like that. They may write stories to say so. But ordinary citizens don't think so. They may be affected to some extent, but I don't think they believe it," Soejima said. "We are Asians, and it's very easy for us to understand each other. If there are political difficulties, take it out."

Soejima said that "we want to visit China more. We want to know the Chinese life and culture, the Chinese people."

"I think Chinese citizens also want to know Japan more and we welcome them to visit Japan, to visit various places within the country. I don't think there is a basic problem among the citizens and businessmen of the two countries," he said.