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Japan, China end fence-mending talks
Updated: 2005-06-24 19:01

Japan and China wrapped up two days of closed-door talks on Friday aimed at halting a deterioration in bilateral ties, which have been at their worst since they were normalized in 1972.

Officials on both sides were tight-lipped on details of the talks, which they said were held "on an unofficial basis."

Relations between the two Asian giants have been strained particularly over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which China sees as a symbol of Japan's past militarism and where convicted war criminals are honored along with Japan's other war dead.

Visiting Chinese vice foreign minister Dai Bingguo held the second round of strategic talks in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart Shotaro Yachi.

The first round was held in Beijing on May 13 and 14.

"The dialogue is aimed at promoting mutual understanding between Japan and China and exchanging views on Sino-Japanese ties as well as regional and international situations from the mid-term and long-term perspectives," said Akira Chiba, assistant press secretary at Japan's Foreign Ministry.

The talks are the highest-level contact between officials of the two nations since Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi abruptly canceled a meeting with Koizumi on May 23 and returned home.

China said Wu cut short her visit due to pressing domestic matters, but Chinese officials later made it clear it was a reaction to Koizumi's refusal to give up visits to Yasukuni.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Thursday in Beijing that China hoped the talks would help increase mutual understanding.

Tensions rose after protests in April by thousands of Chinese over Japan's wartime aggression, its bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. security council, and the revision of a school history textbook which critics say whitewashes Japan's military past.

Amid frosty ties between the Asian neighbors, Japanese Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki will meet his Chinese counterpart Jin Renqing in the Chinese city of Tianjin on Saturday.

Tanigaki said the subject of China's currency reform would likely come up when he meets Jin on the sidelines of a meeting of finance ministers from the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) forum.

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