Japanese politicians visit to fix relations

Updated: 2013-08-31 01:50

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)

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Both nations stress importance of quickly resolving long-held disputes

A visiting former Japanese lower house speaker, meeting with China's top political adviser on Friday, emphasized the urgency of repairing the strained Sino-Japanese relationship.

A Japanese political delegation led by former Japanese House of Representatives speaker Takahiro Yokomichi was told by Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, that the relationship faces serious difficulties.

The Japanese political delegation, comprising members of the Democratic Party of Japan, arrived in Beijing as the two countries remain in a nearly year-old diplomatic deadlock over China's Diaoyu Islands on the East China Sea.

Yokomichi said the "relevant disputes and divergence" should be resolved as soon as possible.

"Currently, the Japan-China relationship is in a critical situation and prompting concerns, but most of the two nations' peoples believe the relationship is of paramount importance," he said.

"Beijing urges Tokyo to stay on the track of peaceful development, and take tangible actions to eliminate obstacles for developing a bilateral relationship, and bring it back on track," Yu said.

The top political adviser made the remarks in the context of Japan's acceleration of its military buildup this year and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's adoption of right-wing policies, including a push to lift Constitutional restraints on the nation's armed forces, analysts said.

Yu said maintaining and enduring a healthy and stable development of a Sino-Japanese relationship serves the fundamental interests of both countries and their peoples.

"Beijing expects Tokyo to face up to the reality, take a lesson from history and keep an eye on the future," he said.

On Sept 10, Yoshihiko Noda, the leader of the DPJ and Japanese prime minister at the time, played a leading role in pushing the Japanese government to unilaterally "nationalize" the Diaoyu Islands.

Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies, said that Japan was the nation that created the tension and damaged the relationship a year ago, but now Tokyo is trying to shift the blame to Beijing.

"Tokyo should create a necessary atmosphere for repairing the relationship rather than glossing over its mistakes. Otherwise, it will draw more criticism," Qu said.

Tokyo's tougher stance

Tokyo has released a series of military buildup plans and publicity measures in recent days to demonstrate a tougher stance on the islands.

The Japanese Defense Ministry officially unveiled its initial budget requests for fiscal year 2014 on Friday that reflected that position.

In order to "enhance the defense of remote islands", the Ground Self-Defense Force will establish an amphibious combat unit, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.

Tokyo and Japan's leading media have long included China's Diaoyu Islands in the definition of the country's so-called remote islands.

Lyu Yaodong, director of the department of Japanese diplomacy of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Japanese government has refused to give up its persistent stance on the islands.

Prominent figures, including the Japanese Cabinet's chief secretary, Yoshihide Suga, continually push the Japanese government's position, turning a blind eye to the consensus reached by the leaders of China and Japan more than 40 years ago to "put aside the dispute", Lyu said.

"This has served as a precondition for initiating a substantial dialogue with the Chinese side over the islands issue and such a move has shut down dialogue," Lyu said.

The Japanese government on Thursday released the results of its first nationwide public opinion survey regarding the Diaoyu Islands.

Only 48 percent of the public surveyed knew about the latest Japanese government position regarding the islands — that there is "no territorial issue" regarding the Diaoyu Islands.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Foreign Ministry plans to use 1 billion yen ($10.2 million) out of its fiscal year 2014 budget to publicize worldwide Japanese territorial claims against its neighbors, including China and South Korea.

The so-called "territorial campaigning" in the international community cost Japan 800 million yen last year, according to Japan's leading newspaper, Sankei Shimbun.