Ja­panese party leader aims to bridge di­vi­sions

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CAI HONG in Tokyo cai­hong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Tadatomo Yoshida, Ja­pan’s So­cial Demo­cratic Party leader, said he will use his up­com­ing trip to Bei­jing to sound out the Chi­nese govern­ment about a pos­si­ble sum­mit be­tween the na­tions.

“I will ask the Chi­nese govern­ment for its con­di­tions on a sum­mit meet­ing be­tween Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe,” Yoshida said in an exclusive in­ter­view with China Daily.

Af­ter his trip from June 23 to 25, he said he will re­lay his dis­cus­sion with the Chi­nese govern­ment to the Abe Cab­i­net and Ja­pan’s par­lia­ment.

“We are try­ing to find a way out of the stale­mate be­tween Ja­pan and China,” the SDP leader said.

Yoshida said Abe has not had a meet­ing with Xi mainly be­cause of the Ja­panese prime min­is­ter’s De­cem­ber visit to the Ya­sukuni Shrine, where 14 Class-A war crim­i­nals are en­shrined.

“This mat­ter ex­poses how the two coun­tries are di­vided on their view­points of his­tory,” he said.

The SDP del­e­ga­tion, led by Yoshida, comes on the heels of vis­its to Bei­jing by sev­eral groups of Ja­panese of­fi­cials and law­mak­ers in April and May.

Af­ter Tokyo Gover­nor Yoichi Ma­su­zoe’s visit to Bei­jing in April, Masahiko Koumura, vice-pres­i­dent of Ja­pan’s rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party, led a del­e­ga­tion from the Ja­panChina Friend­ship Parliamentarians’ Union to Bei­jing in early May. He con­veyed Abe’s mes­sage of hold­ing talks with Xi on the side­lines of the Asi­aPa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion fo­rum in Bei­jing in Novem­ber.

A day af­ter Koumura’s del­e­ga­tion left, a group of LDP law­mak­ers landed in Bei­jing.

“All these trips are good be­cause they help in­form the Chi­nese side of what is go­ing on in Ja­pan,” Yoshida said. “But they shouldn’t be done uni­lat­er­ally (by the rul­ing party).”

The SDP, one of the op­po­si­tion par­ties in Ja­pan, doesn’t trust Abe’s view­point on his­tory, Yoshida said.

In 1995, the so­cial­ist Tomichi Mu­rayama, the for­mer prime min­is­ter of Ja­pan from 1994 to 1996, is­sued his “heart­felt apol­ogy” for atroc­i­ties Ja­pan com­mit­ted in World War II.

“The land­mark 1995 state­ment that car­ries his name has played a vi­tal role in the de­vel­op­ment of the Ja­pan-China ties,” Yoshida said.

He said he is proud of be­ing Mu­rayama’s suc­ces­sor and of in­her­it­ing and de­vel­op­ing the essence of his state­ment.

“First of all, Ja­pan should do some soul-search­ing on the Pa­cific War and the pain it in­flicted on other Asian coun­tries,” the SDP leader said. “Based on that, bi­lat­eral re­la­tions can move for­ward.”

He said it is im­por­tant for the two coun­tries to talk.

“The guid­ing prin­ci­ple we hold is that Abe should an­nounce ex­plic­itly that he will no longer visit the Ya­sukuni Shrine,” Yoshida said. “As long as Abe continues to visit the shrine, his words that the door to co­op­er­a­tion is al­ways open can’t be ac­cepted by China.”

There have been trade talks be­tween the two coun­tries in re­cent months. The two coun­tries’ trade min­is­ters held dis­cus­sions for the first time in two years in May and agreed to strengthen eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion.

Kiy­oyuki Seguchi, re­search di­rec­tor of the Canon In­sti­tute for Global Stud­ies, said that al­though of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the two gov­ern­ments is at its his­tor­i­cal worst, the guid­ing prin­ci­ple of the Chi­nese govern­ment is to sep­a­rate pol­i­tics from the econ­omy.

He said Ja­pan should abol­ish its tourist visa for Chi­nese trav­el­ers in an at­tempt to pro­mote ex­changes in busi­ness and cul­ture be­tween the two coun­tries. He also said the two coun­tries need to make ef­forts to deepen a mu­tual un­der­stand­ing about his­tory.

“China’s de­vel­op­ment is Ja­pan’s de­vel­op­ment, and vice versa,” Seguchi said.

“I hope Abe can re­turn to the start­ing point,” Yoshida said.

This is the SDP’s first visit to China in nine years.

Tadatomo Yoshida,

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