China, Japan clash over past, but look to move forward
Japan and China clashed over memories of the past
but agreed to take small steps forward including a joint study of history to get
their icy relations off rock bottom.
But Nobutaka Machimura of Japan and China's Li Zhaoxing agreed to try to repair their relations. Li refused to apologize for Chinese protesters' damage to some Japanese interests in the past few weekends. The sometimes violent demonstrations were set off by Japan's approval of a textbook that many critics say whitewashes Japan's brutal and sometimes barbarous 1931-1945 occupation of China.
Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said the two countries agreed to study their contentious shared history together. "Both countries will select members of the joint study group, and will agree on modalities at the end of this year," Takashima said.
"The two parties expressed their strong wish that relations between Japan and China will be improved, with recognition that these relations not only have bilateral impact but also influence the situation in Asia and the whole world," he said.
But the two foreign ministers clashed openly about how each side's textbooks portray the other country, said another Japanese official.
"Juxtaposing our Chinese history textbook and the textbook of the Japanese rightists is like putting together right and wrong," Li was quoted as telling Machimura.
The Japanese official said Machimura responded by saying Japanese lawmakers had been concerned about "extreme expressions and small remarks about Japan's international contribution after the war" in Chinese textbooks.
The meeting in Kyoto, Japan, where Li was attending a 38-nation Asia-Europe Meeting, came two weeks after Koizumi offered a rare apology for Japan's past before a Jakarta conference, and held a summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
China's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that Li "hoped that Japan can put into actions what it has expressed about the question of history -- that is to implement in action its introspection and apology over history."
The Japanese official interpreted the remark as the latest Chinese warning for Koizumi to stop his annual pilgrimages to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo which venerates Japanese war dead including some convicted war criminals.
Li also warned Japan to stay out of the Taiwan issue after Tokyo and Washington declared the island, which both countries admit is integral part of China’s territory, part of their “shared security concern”.
"I would like to say calmly to Japan: The Taiwan issue is a domestic affair and a matter of life or death to us. It is dangerous to interfere in China's matter of life or death," Li was quoted as saying.
But Qin, the Chinese spokesman, said China also hoped to increase
people-to-people contact including by bringing students from prestigious Peking
University to perform in Japan.