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China, Japan talks on UN reform highlight rift
Updated: 2005-12-26 21:43

Chinese and Japanese officials held a rare one-on-one meeting in Beijing on Monday, but their discussions highlighted the rift between the two Asian powers.


Japan's opposition leader Seiji Maehara (R), seen with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (L), has reiterated his long-held view that China may be a threat to Japan despite growing criticism of his hawkish stance. [AFP]

Masaharu Kono, a deputy vice-minister in Japan's Foreign Ministry met Qiao Zonghuai, a Chinese deputy foreign minister, to discuss Japan's proposals to overhaul the United Nations and give Japan a seat on the U.N. Security Council, China's Foreign Ministry Web site reported on Monday.

China's leaders and foreign minister have refused to hold one-on-one meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Japanese foreign ministers, citing Tokyo's attitudes toward Japan's wartime past and Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which holds the remains of 14 "Class A" war criminals from World War Two.

The meeting between Kono and Qiao was a step toward expanded dialogue between the two countries. But Qiao made it clear that China is reluctant to take up U.N. reform and give a wealthy neighbor like Japan a seat on the Security Council.

"The priority in reforming the Security Council is increasing the number of developing countries, especially representation of Africa," Qiao told Kono, according to Xinhua.

China will only consider reform if there is unanimous support for it, Qiao said.

"China opposes forcing a vote on any reform plan that still engenders major disputes," he said.

China says Japan's leaders must stop visiting the Yusukuni Shrine and show more contrition for Japan's wartime atrocities before bilateral relations can be healthy.
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