The joint declaration signed yesterday by China and Japan was hailed by Sino-Japanese experts as a good start that showed a willingness to set aside contentious issues in the interests of closer ties. Analysts said the joint communique put forward a comprehensive set of principles to govern the future development of bilateral ties, and its all-encompassing nature set it apart from three previous agreements. Describing President Hu Jintao's trip as a success, Li Guangmin, an expert on Sino-Japanese relations at Qingdao University's Politics and International Studies Institute, said the declaration laid out a basic framework for relations between the two countries, leaving its translation into practice to various government departments in the future. Professor Li said that in the past both sides tended to insist on their own interpretations on controversies such as territorial and gas-field disputes in the East China Sea, but this time 'the wording of the declaration showed that both countries tried to avoid touching on sensitive issues'. He said Beijing was most worried now about whether Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda would continue to be leader after the general election in September next year, given his unpopularity in his homeland. 'This declaration does not have any binding effect on subsequent governments and we're not sure if this will be carried on,' he said. While Premier Wen Jiabao's 'ice-melting' trip to Japan last year resulted in a joint statement that centred on co-operation on trade, energy and environmental issues, former president Jiang Zemin's trip to Japan in 1998 - the last one by a Chinese head of state until now - was considered a failure because he did not deliver breakthroughs on issues such as wartime history. A decade later, Mr Hu's trip is seen as having a dual purpose - to warm relations chilled by nationalist Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, and to restore Beijing's image tainted by suppression in Tibet and the waves of protests dogging the overseas Olympic torch relay. Chen Gang, a research fellow with the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, said that in these terms Mr Hu's trip seemed quite successful. Dr Chen also said China had moderated its position on some policies towards Japan, the most striking being the slight shift in stance on Japan's application for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. He said China had declared that it recognised and supported Japan playing a bigger role in the UN and that this could be a hint that it was prepared to support Japan's bid. Despite Beijing's desire for Japan to recognise Taiwan as part of the People's Republic of China, Tokyo's stance on this - in which it 'respects and understands' Beijing's position on Taiwan - was unchanged. Chen Peng-jen, a professor at the Japanese Institute at Taipei-based Chinese Culture University, said Japan would not change or clarify its position on the Taiwan issue, as it was a sensitive matter that also touched on US military ties with Taipei.