Japan says to hold talks with China
Updated: 2006-01-08 09:20
Japan said on Friday it would hold informal talks with China next week to
discuss overall ties, chilled by disputes over a range of issues including
Japan's war history and energy rivalry.
Foreign ministry officials will meet in Beijing on Monday, the ministry said
in a statement.
Sino-Japanese relations sank to their
lowest level in decades last year, due partly to Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi's annual visits to a shrine for war dead that China regards as a symbol
of Japan's past militarism.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is
shown in Tokyo January 4, 2006.
In parallel with the broader discussions, talks will be held to discuss ways
to develop resources in disputed areas of the East China Sea, the ministry said.
A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said the talks would be an "informal
working engagement" between the two foreign ministries' chief diplomats for
Asian affairs. He said discussions would focus on the East China Sea dispute.
Earlier, Japanese government officials said Tokyo and Beijing were far apart
over how to explore and develop oil and gas resources in the disputed areas.
On Wednesday, Koizumi rejected criticism by China and South Korea of his
visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine which houses 14 Class A World War II war
Koizumi said again that he made the pilgrimages to honor the war dead and
pray for peace.
He said the feud should not drive a diplomatic wedge between Japan and its
neighbors and that he was committed to developing friendly ties with Beijing and
Many in China and South Korea see the shrine as a symbol of Tokyo's past
Japan colonized the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and occupied parts of
China from 1931 to 1945.
Koizumi met Chinese President Hu Jintao last April on the sidelines of an
Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia, where the two tried to halt the downward spiral
in ties symbolized by sometimes violent anti-Japanese protests in China.
The latest problem is an argument over the death of a member of staff at the
Japanese Consulate General in Shanghai in 2004.
Japan said the death was linked to action by Chinese security agents, an
allegation China said was "vile" behaviour that "smears" Beijing's image.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said last week the death was suicide and
China and Japan had clearly defined the nature of the case 18 months ago.