Foreign and Military Affairs

Premier Wen reaches out to Japan

Updated: 2011-05-22 07:39

By Wu Jiao and Dong Wei (China Daily)

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Premier Wen reaches out to Japan
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speaks with Japanese quake survivors and offers encouragement during a visit to a temporary shelter in the recovering disaster zone.[Photo/Agencies]

After 'personal' visit to radiation-hit areas, premier heads for talks in Tokyo

MIYAGI/ FUKUSHIMA, Japan - China is ready to extend more aid to Japan in its disaster relief endeavor, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said when he toured Japan's most severely hit disaster region on Saturday.

In a concrete move of encouragement, Wen announced that China is ready to allow import of more agricultural and other products from Japan despite fears of contamination from the nuclear crisis in the country.

Wen made the remarks while making his first stop in the tsunami-flattened Natori City in Miyagi Prefecture at Saturday noon after landing in Sendai Airport just 15 minutes earlier.

The 69-year-old Chinese premier flew in from Beijing in the early morning to ensure he had enough time to travel all afternoon from Sendai to Tokyo, where he was to deliver his condolences and encouragement for the people affected by the Japanese disaster.

Answering questions from Japanese reporters on the tour, Wen said China is ready to extend more material help and other support for Japan's disaster-relief task.

"China is willing to continue relaxing the import restrictions of Japanese agricultural and other goods, on condition that safety is assured," said Wen.

While food makes up just 1 percent of Japanese exports, Tokyo fears radiation concerns may affect other goods just after the export-reliant economy plunged back into recession.

Wen also said China is ready to restore and expand tourism between China and Japan, as tourism numbers took a sharp drop in April.

China will send two business groups to Japan to explore opportunities for cooperation in the disaster relief and reconstruction sector as well as investment to Japan. He also pledged to enhance joint research and cooperation in disaster prevention, earthquake and tsunami monitoring, nuclear safety and new energy development.

Wen said he had brought with him 61 million yuan ($9.4 million) donated by the Chinese to the Red Cross Society of China for Japanese victims of the disaster. He reiterated Beijing's offer of help in reconstruction and said he hoped aid from China would help improve the often chilly relations between the world's second and third largest economies.

"A friend in need is more precious. I hope the friendship forged between the Chinese and Japanese people through this joint effort in disaster relief will be long-lasting and solid."

The premier arrived in Tokyo late Saturday to join Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the Republic of Korea's President Lee Myung-bak for an annual summit of East Asia's three leading economic powers this weekend. Talks are to focus on cooperation in disaster relief and nuclear safety.

Wen will also hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Sunday morning. It will be the first formal meeting between them after ties deteriorated when Japan's coast guard arrested the captain of a Chinese fishing trawler. The captain's boat had collided with Japanese patrol ships near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Observers said the visit would be an important step in improving China-Japan relations.



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