New leaders often bring in new policies and new styles, and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is trying hard to do a great deal of both. This week, he acted to reduce lingering Chinese resentment about Japan's World War II record, and to give his country's modern armed forces an expanded global role. The two items are linked, and both would have seemed impossible for Mr Koizumi's predecessors of recent decades. During his brief Beijing visit, Mr Koizumi agreed to the public show of contrition which his Chinese hosts sought. He visited the Marco Polo Bridge, site of the 1937 incident which symbolises the beginning of Japan's invasion, and he toured a nearby museum devoted largely to Japan's wartime atrocities. More importantly, he spoke publicly about the Japanese role in frank terms. 'I looked at the various exhibits with a feeling of heartfelt apology and condolences for those Chinese people who were victims of aggression,' he told the TV cameras, words featured prominently in Chinese media reports. An earlier prime minister said pretty much the same thing back in 1955, but in today's political context the comment carries more weight. Beijing for years has complained about Tokyo's refusal to issue an official apology for its wartime actions, and this has been a continuing irritant in Sino-Japanese relations. It appears that both sides will now accept this statement as the next best thing, and change the subject; that should do much to improve the general tone of their discourse and let them deal more easily with current issues. However, Mr Koizumi got something in return. He is pushing new laws to let Japan's Self-Defence Forces provide support services for the US military in the fight against terrorism, such as ferrying ammunition or carrying weapons to protect refugees. Such things are now prohibited and many Asian nations, notably China, have opposed any measure allowing the Japanese international military role to expand. But President Jiang Zemin said he found it 'easy to understand' why Japan wanted to do this, though he cautioned Mr Koizumi to 'remember the wariness' of other Asians. Thus the Japanese leader both reassured China in one area and won its tacit approval in another - more progress than any of his predecessors could manage.