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  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 6:15pm
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DIPLOMACY

Japanese MPs hint at thaw in ties with Beijing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 3:19am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 3:19am

A group of Japanese lawmakers said yesterday that Vice-President Li Yuanchao had agreed that the two countries both need to make efforts to mend relations badly damaged over territorial and historical issues.

"At least three times Vice-President Li said we should overlook minor disagreements for the sake of common interests. That's important for Japan and China," Kiyohiko Toyama, a New Komeito lawmaker, who heads the cross-party group, said at a press conference in Beijing after their meeting. The eight-member group said it had asked Li to cooperate in setting up a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum to be held in November in the capital.

Li promised the group he would convey the request to the relevant departments and agencies in Beijing, Toyama said.

Vice-President Li said we should overlook minor disagreements
Kiyohiko Toyama, a New Komeito lawmaker

"Having said that, he said to remove political obstacles we both need to create an environment and an atmosphere necessary" for the meeting, according to Toyama, who described their talks as extremely forward-looking.

The talks with Li were scheduled without the group's request in advance, according to Toyama.

Beijing has repeatedly rebuffed Japanese government calls, both public and private, for a face-to-face meeting between Abe and Xi, citing a heated territorial dispute over a group of small islands in the East China Sea and what the Chinese government sees as Tokyo's unrepentant attitude towards its past militarism.

The meeting between the group and Li took place as the two countries are trying harder to find ways to thaw relations, at least slightly, before this year's Apec summit.

The foreign ministers of the two countries held one-on-one talks earlier this month in Myanmar during regional meetings, their first since Abe took office in December 2012.

In addition to China's claim on the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan calls the Senkaku Islands, a major sticking point has been Abe's visit last December to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours past Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals, along with millions of war dead.

In what was widely regarded as an attempt not to escalate tensions with China, Abe chose not to visit the shrine in Tokyo on Friday, the 69th anniversary of Japan's surrender to Allied forces in the second world war.

He did, however, send a ritual offering to the shrine.

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This article is now closed to comments

P Blair
The US occupation of Japan is a failure. The Japanese never reformed their evil ways. It will be good if any occupier is found that will take strong actions against madmen like Shinzo Abe and that will ban renegade political parties like the LDP.
A Kuro
China should set the condition for any meetings to include the return to China of the Diaoyu Islands, Japanese payment of war reparations, and the closing down of the Yasukuni War Shrine.
raglan
Any summit between Xi and Abe should take place in Nanjing China.....would that be interesting....
baysidedweller
I do not think Li Yuanchao meant Diaoyu/Senkaku dispute is a "minor" disagreement, visiting the Yusukuni Shrine - maybe.
IMO, Abe has to at least acknowledge dispute exists on the islands before Xi will agree to meet him in November.
Let's hope Abe has finally come to his senses and realize that Japan has to negotiate with China on the islands.
This could also be a ploy by Abe's administration to "stretch" the facts a bit.
raglan
The US occupation isn't really about reforming Japan, it was to ensure Japan was part of the containment of the Soviet Union during the Cold War and now the containment of China.
baysidedweller
Good idea, While in Nanjing, Abe should go to the Nanjing massacre memorial, make at least a 45 degree bow (Japanese have different types of bows) and offer flowers to the dead.

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