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China Urges Abe To Properly Handle History

Japanese prime minister-in-waiting Shinzo Ab. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sep 21, 2006
China told Japanese prime minister-in-waiting Shinzo Abe on Thursday he must properly handle his nation's war-time past, particularly the Yasukuni shrine issue, if Sino-Japanese ties were to improve. "We hope the new Liberal Democratic Party leader can match his words with action and make sincere efforts to improve and develop bilateral relations," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

"The proper and correct handling of the historical issues between China and Japan, including the Taiwan issue, constitutes the political basis for China-Japan relations."

Qin was speaking to reporters a day after Abe was elected as the head of Japan's ruling LDP, meaning he will succeed outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi next week.

Abe, whose grandfather was a cabinet minister during World War II, is known to have views on history well to the right of those held by Koizumi, such as questioning the legitimacy of US-led trials of war criminals.

He has championed revising the US-imposed pacifist constitution and instilling patriotism in education, ideas which alarm Tokyo's neighbors.

Abe, Koizumi's chief cabinet secretary, is also a supporter of visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, which honors the nation's war dead -- including a group of war criminals executed after the end of World War II.

But he has refused to say whether as prime minister he would visit the shrine, seen by China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

China's leaders have refused to meet with Koizumi since April last year due to his visits to the shrine.

"China's position on the development of bilateral relations and visiting the Yasukuni shrine is quite clear and consistent, this position remains unchanged," Qin said Thursday.

Qin said he was not sure if vice foreign minister Dai Bingguo would meet Abe this weekend in Tokyo when he holds talks with his counterpart Shotaro Yachi on ways to improve bilateral ties.

However he maintained that improving Sino-Japanese ties was a priority for Beijing.

"China has always attached great importance to the development of bilateral ties, we will continue to improve and develop our friendly relations and neighboring cooperation with Japan on the basis of taking history as the mirror for the benefit of the future," Qin said.

In a further effort to improve soured ties as Abe assumes the premiership, Japan's upper house president Chikage Ogi will visit China in mid-October to hold talks with senior Chinese officials, the Japanese parliament announced Thursday.

During her three-day visit to Beijing starting on October 15, Ogi will meet the head of the National People's Congress and other top politicians, possibly including President Hu Jintao, her secretary said.

News reports said Abe was likely to ask Ogi to send a message to Chinese officials. Both Abe and Ogi belong to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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China supports the establishment of an effective global partnership, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said Wednesday. The Security Council held, on the sidelines of general debate of the UN General Assembly, a ministerial-level thematic debate on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security.

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