China’s pres­i­dent meets Abe in sign of thaw­ing re­la­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WU JIAO in Jakarta and LI XIAOKUN in Bei­jing

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe on Wed­nes­day vowed to up­hold Ja­pan’s past apolo­gies for World War II and ex­pected to dis­cuss with China about the newly es­tab­lished Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank.

In a sign of thaw­ing re­la­tions, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Abe agreed to im­prove the key re­la­tion­ship, which has gone through ups and downs due to the Abe gov­ern­ment’s stance on his­tor­i­cal and ter­ri­to­rial is­sues.

The meet­ing can be seen as a re­peat of his­tory. One decade ago, then-pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao had an eye-catch­ing meet­ing with Ju­nichiro Koizumi, then the Ja­panese prime min­is­ter, in Jakarta on the side­lines of the sum­mit mark­ing the 50th an­niver­sary of the Ban­dung Con­fer­ence. The meet­ing helped thaw re­la­tions shad­owed by Ja­pan’s stance on his­tor­i­cal and Tai­wan is­sues.

“The Ja­panese Cabi­net and I have promised at many sites that we will con­tinue to ad­here to the past Ja­panese gov­ern­ments’ un­der­stand­ing on his­tor­i­cal is­sues, in­clud­ing the Mu­rayama State­ment,” Abe told Xi, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease is­sued af­ter the meet­ing. “The stance will not change,” Abe said in the meet­ing on the side­lines of a sum­mit mark­ing the 60th an­niver­sary of the Ban­dung Con­fer­ence, which pro­moted co­op­er­a­tion be­tween de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in Asia and Africa.

In 1995, then-prime min­is­ter Tomi­ichi Mu­rayama of Ja­pan of­fi­cially apol­o­gized for his na­tion’s wartime ag­gres­sion and atroc­i­ties.

Abe said, “I ex­pect very much to im­prove Ja­pan-China re­la­tions,” adding that Ja­pan will fol­low a path of peace­ful devel­op­ment and will not see China as a threat.

Xi said both sides should take “ac­tive poli­cies to­ward each other”, adding that Bei­jing will strengthen com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Tokyo and push for­ward mu­tual un­der­stand­ing among peo­ple. He shook hands with Abe be­fore the talks started. Xi urged Ja­pan to se­ri­ously take Asian neigh­bors’ con­cerns and face up to his­tor­i­cal is­sues. “Lead­ers of the two coun­tries should shoul­der due re­spon­si­bil­i­ties” for re­gional sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity, Xi said.

The lead­ers agreed to im­ple­ment the four-point agree­ment reached when they met on the side­lines of the APEC sum­mit in Bei­jing in Novem­ber, in which they agreed to re­sume po­lit­i­cal, diplo­matic and se­cu­rity dia­logue while ac­knowl­edg­ing dif­fer­ent po­si­tions on the Diaoyu Is­lands.

Shi Yin­hong, an ex­pert on in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Ren­min Uni­ver­sity of China, said the meet­ing sig­nals that con­fronta­tion be­tween China and Ja­pan has eased.

Yang Bo­jiang, deputy direc­tor of the In­sti­tute of Ja­pan Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said ties need time to be re­paired.

Speak­ing at the sum­mit ear­lier that day, Abe had ex­pressed Ja­pan’s “deep re­morse” over World War II with­out is­su­ing a di­rect apol­ogy.

Asked about Abe’s com­ments, For­eign Min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said in Bei­jing that the global com­mu­nity is “look­ing for­ward to see­ing that Ja­pan can squarely face and re­flect upon its his­tory of ag­gres­sion”.

For­mer prime min­is­ter Mu­rayama on Tues­day crit­i­cized Abe’s state­ment that he will not re­peat the word­ings of “apol­ogy” and “ag­gres­sion” in the 70th an­niver­sary of World War II state­ment in Au­gust.

On Tues­day, Abe sent an of­fer­ing to the Ya­sukuni Shrine, be­fore more than 100 Ja­panese law­mak­ers vis­ited the shrine on Wed­nes­day. The shrine hon­ors Ja­pan’s war dead, in­clud­ing 14 Class-A war crim­i­nals from World War II.

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