Japan, China continue talks on strained ties
Updated: 2006-02-12 14:26
Japan and China are conducing a high-level talks
aimed at easing strained bilateral ties, with the end of Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi's controversial tenure in sight.
China's vice foreign minister Dai
Bingguo and his Japanese counterpart Shotaro Yachi moved on to a hot springs
resort north of Tokyo after holding a morning session of talks in the Japanese
Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo (L) shakes hands with his Japanese
counterpart Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi before their talks at the
Iikura House in Tokyo February 10, 2006. Top diplomats from Japan and
China met on Friday in an effort to maintain dialogue despite a chill in
ties due to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a war
shrine seen by Beijing as a symbol of Tokyo's past militarism.
The two sides were believed to be discussing ways to improve their ties
frayed by Koizumi's repeated visits to a Tokyo shrine which honours 2.5 million
Japanese war dead, including 14 convicted World War II Class-A war criminals.
It was the first bilateral meeting at the vice minister level in four months
since the Japanese premier made his annual pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine in
October, sparking off fierce protests in China and South Korea.
The Japanese side was reportedly seeking a resumption of contacts between
Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao, as well as their foreign ministers. But
Beijing is strongly opposed to any top-level bilateral exchanges because
Koizumi, who has promised to step down in September after more than five years
in office, refuses to stop his shrine visits.
In their talks late Friday, Dai and Yachi "confirmed the importance of
Japan-China relations" and also discussed cultural exchanges among youths from
the two countries, the Japanese foreign ministry said in a brief statement.
The pair were believed to be discussing oil and gas in a disputed area of the
East China Sea.
In a meeting with a Japanese ruling coalition leader on Friday, Dai called
Beijing's opposition to the shrine visits a "matter of principle" and said the
situation should change.