China: Japan must not forget past

Chinese premier seeks improvement of ties but says history has left "deep scars".

    Wen told the Japanese parliament he wants to
    see a new era of relations [Reuters]

    "The deep scars left in the hearts of the Chinese people cannot be described."
     

    "I am coming to visit Japan for friendship and co-operation between China and Japan"

    Wen Jiabao,
    Chinese premier

    Wen's remarks came a day after the two countries agreed to work together on defence ties, North Korea, energy and the environment.
     
    Wen and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe also pledged to defuse disputes over history and territory on Wednesday.
     
    The first Chinese premier to visit Japan since 2000, Wen had told Abe on Wednesday that "neither side should view the other as a threat or a challenge and engage in confrontation".
     
    Abe said at a banquet in Wen's honour that the two countries must "build future-oriented and stable Japan-China relations".
     

    Wen began Thursday with a run and some
    exercises in a Tokyo park [Reuters]

    "We want to expand our common interests through strengthening dialogue in various fields," he said. 
     
    Wen said he expected his three-day visit to be a success.
     
    "We must keep up the momentum toward building friendly ties that have been forged between the governments and peoples of the two countries," he said.
     
    The leaders signed a series of agreements on Wednesday.
     
    In a joint statement, the two vowed to seek ways to jointly develop gas deposits in disputed waters, pursue the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and work together on energy development and intellectual property rights.
     
    The two powers also agreed to strengthen defence co-operation, setting up a visit by Cao Gangchuan, the Chinese defence minister, this year, as well as reciprocal visits by the countries' battleships.
     
    An environmental accord called for the two to work on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change by 2013.
     
    Officials are to also meet to iron out plans for economic dialogue to address trade and investment concerns.
     
    Areas of concern
     
    While the emphasis was on co-operation, both leaders broached areas of concern.
     

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    The declaration made a veiled reference to the bitter dispute over wartime history, and Wen warned that the past could be an obstacle to improved ties if not handled well.
     
    China still nurses resentment over Japanese invasions in the 1930s and 40s, while Japanese nationalists accuse Beijing of exaggerating accounts of atrocities for political gain.
     
    "We resolve to face up to history and open up good, forward-looking relations toward a beautiful future," the statement said.
     
    Abe urged China to be more transparent about its surge in military spending.
     
    Wen assured Abe that Beijing would use its armed forces only for national security, Japanese officials said.
     

    Visits by Abe's predecessor to the Yasukuni
    war shrine strained relations [GALLO/GETTY]

    Wen also pointed out the dispute over gas deposits in the East China sea.
     
    The two countries have not demarcated their exclusive economic zones in the area, and Japan has objected to Chinese exploitation of the deposits, saying that some of the gas belongs to Japan.
     
    Wen stopped short of declaring Beijing would support Japan's quest for a seat on the UN Security Council, only saying that China was in favour of "an important role" for Tokyo in the UN.
     
    Sino-Japanese ties grew tense under Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, who made annual visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni

    war shrine, which honours the country's war dead, including some convicted war criminals.

     
    Abe helped to trigger a thaw in relations by making Beijing his first visit after taking office in September.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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