Abe joins gala by Chinese embassy
Japanese leader is first in 15 years to personally mark PRC founding, normalization of relations
In a rare move, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe showed up and said “good evening” in Chinese at the Chinese embassy’s gala marking the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Thursday in Tokyo.
Abe told a full house of nearly 2,000 people that he will work hard to make the trilateral summit meeting for leaders of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea possible in Japan this year to improve his country’s relations with Beijing.
Thursday’s event also was for observing the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan on Friday.
Abe, the first Japanese prime minister to attend such a ceremony in 15 years, was accompanied by other Japanese officials and politicians, such as Foreign Minister Taro Kono and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s secretarygeneral, Toshihiro Nikai.
Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua said China attaches great importance to its relationship with Japan, persistently appealing to push the ties forward on the basis of four political documents and the consensus on improving the ties.
The four documents include the China-Japan Joint Statement signed in 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998 and a joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually beneficial relations in a comprehensive way that was signed in 2008.
He said the two countries need to carefully maintain the political foundation for their relations. The China-Japan relationship is improving, though many complicated and sensitive issues remain, he said.
The two countries should take concrete actions to implement the consensus that they are partners that do not pose a threat to each other. They need to try to build political and strategic trust.
Japanese Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said he took Abe’s presence at the event as a positive signal for bilateral ties.
Gao Hong, a Japan expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, agreed that Abe’s willingness to participate sent a good message. “As Abe dissolved the Lower House of Japan’s parliament on Thursday to call a snap election in October, he wants to build good relations with Japan’s neighbors,” the scholar said. “Abe may use the positive diplomatic approach to help his election campaign.”
In May, the Abe administration said Japan is willing to cooperate with China on President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative and other business projects, which China has welcomed, Gao said.
Michio Ito, general manager of the China Business Office of Takenaka Corp, was glad that the Japanese prime minister came to the Chinese embassy’s celebration, which he believed would help improve ties.
Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua (left) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Thursday.