Japan asking for informal summit with China
Updated: 2005-04-21 08:40
After Chinese officials called for an end to
weekend protests against Japaní»s Government, Japan reciprocated on Wednesday by
asking for a summit meeting between leaders of the countries later this week in
Indonesia, the New York Times reported.
With signs that both sides were
seeking ways to defuse the diplomatic crisis, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi responded favorably to Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing after his call to
Chinese protesters to stop the weekend marches and protests against Japanese
consular offices and businesses in Chinese cities.
Minister Li Zhaoxing appealed for calm and said the public should not take part
in unauthorized demonstrations.
"Express yourselves calmly, rationally and in an orderly fashion," Li was
quoted as saying. "Do not participate in unapproved marches and other activities
and do not do anything that will affect social stability."
"You can see well that there is a tone that says it is necessary to lead it
toward an improvement, and I think we share that view," Koizumi told reporters
Japan is pressing for a summit meeting on the sidelines between
Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao when they attend an Asia-Africa
conference in Indonesia on Friday and Saturday.
"We hope this meeting
will take place," the spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Hatsuhisa
Takashima, told the New York Times by telephone from Jakarta. "We are now making
arrangements in that direction, but the Chinese are a little slow in giving us
an answer. We told them that we would like to have a meeting on a wide range of
Wedesday's comments by Japanese and Chinese officials contrasted
sharply with their tone earlier. Japan's foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura,
had demanded an apology from China, and his Chinese counterpart had pointedly
China has rejected state-level visits with Japan since 2001 because of
Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where World War II criminals
are enshrined. But the two leaders held a tense meeting on the fringes of the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Santiago last November, during
which Hu demanded that Koizumi stop visiting the shrine.
officials called an end to the protests, apparently apprehensive about social
disturbances if they continued. In Japan, fears have risen that Japan's economy,
which has grown increasingly interdependent with China's, might be undermined by
further friction leading to calls inside China to boycott Japanese products.
Japan's economy had been recovering until last year, thanks mainly to the
soaring Chinese economy, said the New York Times.
On Wednesday, Japanese
business leaders - who, unlike politicians, tend to view China as a partner
rather than a rival - held a news conference to express worries that the crisis
would make it difficult for Japanese companies to do business in
"If the situation caused the Chinese economy to slow, it would
affect not only Japan but the whole Asian economy," said Kakutaro Kitashiro,
chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives and of IBM. Japan
The most obvious cause of the protests was anger by the Chinese at
newly approved textbooks in Japanese junior high schools that gloss over Japan's
militarism and war crimes.
Even as Japan has tried to expand its reach
in Asia - by donating $500 million to tsunami relief efforts and sending its
Self-Defense Forces to Indonesia - there were signs that its dispute with China
would hurt Japan's image in the region.
Continuing Japanese denials that
their textbooks and attitude toward the past have anything to do with the
marches in China have not found sympathetic ears in Asian countries that were
invaded by Imperial Japan. Protests against Japan have also taken place in South
Korea and Vietnam, and critical comments have come from Malaysia and Indonesia,
said the New York Times.
"We feel as Indonesians that all countries -
including Japan - have to face the facts of history," Indonesia's foreign
ministry spokesman, Marty Natalegawa, said earlier this week.