China / Politics

Japan businesses encouraged to repair ties

By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-16 01:22

Vice-Premier Wang Yang met visiting former Japanese lower house speaker Yohei Kono on Tuesday and called on prominent entrepreneurs in Japan to repair the nations' strained relationship.

Wang told the delegation of Japanese industrial leaders led by Kono that the Chinese government "has always made the development of its relationship with Japan a priority".

"China and Japan are major economic and trade partners, and the deepening of economic and trade cooperation serves the interests of both," Wang said.

Japan's relationships with China and South Korea tumbled this year after several Japanese Cabinet members said or did things that were seen as attempts to whitewash Japan's history of aggression in the first half of the 20th century.

Kono said Japan should "firmly honor promises, including the Kono Statement", and create conditions for improving the relationship.

The 1993 Kono Statement, made by the then-Japanese chief Cabinet secretary, was the first official acknowledgement by Tokyo that its military forced girls and women from occupied countries and territories into sexual slavery during World War II.

On Tuesday, Wang participated in "the first bilateral meeting held by one of the Chinese vice-premiers to host prominent figures from Japan" after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid a pilgrimage to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine in December, Japan's Jiji news agency reported.

The Chinese government has demonstrated its "emphasis on bilateral communication in economic and citizen diplomacy levels," Jiji said.

Sun Cheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, said that although the economic indicators including bilateral trade have noticeably dropped, "the big picture of a strong interdependence has not been changed".

"China is still a major market for Japanese business giants, and they are pretty optimistic about the market," Sun said.

Beijing seeks a healthy and stable development of the Sino-Japanese relationship on the basis of the four important bilateral political documents, the vice-premier said.

The worsening relationship has led to a reduced number of two-way visits and exchanges.

Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe, a former health minister who took office in February, said on Tuesday that he will make a three-day trip as the guest of Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun, the first Tokyo governor in 18 years to be invited, AFP reported.

Masuzoe said he will be seeking advice from his Beijing counterpart on staging a world-class Olympics after China's 2008 Games, as Tokyo prepares to host its own in 2020.

"It would be fortunate if the two cities could help improve Japan-China relations by building on these exchanges," he told a news conference.

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