Japan politicians seek to mend ties

Updated: 2013-06-04 08:20

By Zhang Yunbiand Wu Jiao (China Daily)

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 Japan politicians seek to mend ties

Liu Yunshan (right), a member of China's top political authority, meets a visiting delegation of veteran Japanese members of various parties led by Hiromu Nonaka (left), former Japanese chief cabinet secretary, in Beijing on Monday. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

Efforts may be hit by Tokyo's refusal to put Diaoyu Islands dispute aside

Prominent visiting Japanese politicians are trying to mend ties despite Tokyo's hard-line position on China's Diaoyu Islands.

Efforts by the heavyweight figures, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday to improve relations, may be offset by the Japanese government's continuing refusal to honor its previous pledge to put aside the dispute, observers warned.

Beijing has urged Tokyo to "create conditions" for improving and developing the bilateral relationship, Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, told a visiting delegation on Monday.

The visiting group of veteran members of various parties in Japan is led by Hiromu Nonaka, former Japanese chief cabinet secretary.

Its mission is to find a way to repair the strained relationship, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported.

"Many of our Chinese friends commented that you are a trustworthy person with a strong sense of justice," Liu said, expressing appreciation for Nonaka's contribution in pushing forward the China-Japan relationship.

Liu said he was touched by the 88-year-old politician's arrival at a time when bilateral ties are suffering.

To repair the strained relationship, China has made great efforts to invite Japanese friends and important prominent figures to visit, said Li Wei, director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

However, some of the comments by Japan's Cabinet members, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have prompted worries, Li said.

"Some of its positions and remarks are provocative and have sent signals that have been regarded as not promising," Li said.

The Japanese government repeated its view on Monday that no territorial dispute exists between Japan and China.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on Monday that Tokyo "doesn't have any territorial dispute to be solved" over the Diaoyu Islands, Japan's Jiji Press News Agency reported.

Suga also dismissed the existence of bilateral consensus to put the islands dispute aside.

In Beijing, Nonaka recalled the consensus reached by leaders on both sides about putting aside the dispute, which was achieved more than 40 years ago when diplomatic ties were forged in 1972. The Japan-China friendship is a "common aspiration", for which they will spare no effort, said the senior guest, who is also the former secretary-general of Japan's now ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

"China is willing to foster the bilateral relationship on the basis of the four key political documents that have been signed by the two countries," Liu told the guests.

Japan is expected to face up to history and reality and meet China halfway, Liu said.

Given that the Japanese government still refuses to reflect on its position regarding the islands dispute, "it is likely that the struggle between China and Japan will continue over this territorial dispute at political and judicial levels", said Zhang Haiwen, deputy director of the China Institute for Marine Affairs.

"As long as Tokyo refuses to give up its persistence on the dispute and never returns to a rational approach (of resolving the issue), it is impossible to cool down the tension about the islands," Zhang said.

Nonaka has been a frequent guest to China, and is also an honorary adviser of the Japan-China Friendship Association.

Contact writer at zhangyunbi@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily USA 06/04/2013 page3)