China says 'no change' in policy on improving ties with Japan

SHANGHAI/BEIJING Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:02am EDT

A memorial compound, honoring more than 1,000 ''Showa Martyrs'', is seen in Koyasan Okuno-in temple in Koya town, central Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 27, 2014. REUTERS/Kyodo

A memorial compound, honoring more than 1,000 ''Showa Martyrs'', is seen in Koyasan Okuno-in temple in Koya town, central Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 27, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kyodo

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SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Thursday rejected remarks by former Japanese prime minister Yasuo Fukuda that Beijing had expressed willingness to improve ties between Asia's two biggest economies, and said there was "no change" in its policy on Tokyo.

Relations between China and Japan have been frayed by rows over the legacy of Japan's wartime militarism, a territorial feud over tiny islands in the East China Sea, and mutual distrust over defense policies.

China's foreign ministry was asked to respond to a speech on Wednesday in which Fukuda described his recent meetings with Chinese leaders, and added that both sides had shown the same sense of crisis over Sino-Japanese ties.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said there was no change in China's position on the improvement and development of Sino-Japanese relations.

"Japan must face up to reality, show sincerity, take concrete actions and make efforts to eliminate political obstacles that affect the development of bilateral relations," Qin added, in a statement on the foreign ministry's website.

Earlier this month, the Nikkei business daily said Japan and China were trying to arrange two-way talks between their leaders at an APEC summit in Beijing in November.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had expressed his desire to mend ties during a meeting with Fukuda, who visited China late in July on a "stealth mission" to broker a rapprochement, the paper said, citing sources from both sides.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has yet to meet Chinese leaders since he returned to power late in 2012, as relations have cooled over disputed islands in the East China Sea and Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which China sees as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

In a separate statement earlier, Qin urged Japan to "make a clean break with militarism" and win the trust of its Asian neighbors, following news of a condolence message Abe sent in April to a ceremony honoring Japanese "martyrs" convicted as war criminals after World War Two.

Abe surged back to power in December 2012 pledging to revive the economy, but remains committed to a conservative agenda that includes recasting Japan's wartime past with a less apologetic tone and easing the limits of its pacifist constitution.

News of Abe's condolence message was expected to further strain ties with China over Japan's war record.

"We urge Japan to abide to their commitment to post-war non-aggression and take practical action to win the trust of their Asian neighbors and the international community," Qin said in Wednesday's statement.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI and Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez)

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Comments (14)
Axadental wrote:
One would think that history would constrain Japan and its current leadership to take a somewhat more humble approach to interpreting past events considering that they viciously attacked and wreaked horror and death upon all their neighbors in the Pacific, including China, Korea, and the United States. However,the lessons of history seem pretty well lost on reactionary factions around the world. Hopefully, Japan will shake off this paranoid delusion and move on to take its rightful position of responsibility and leadership in the world.

Aug 27, 2014 10:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MarvinZesti wrote:
I hate agreeing with China, but in this case………….

Aug 27, 2014 10:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
OldRed wrote:
I have to agree with China for once. These shrines should be destroyed. They speak the truth, WAR CRIMES. Like the skinheads in Germany supporting Hitler’s ideas. The japs need to denounce the history of these acts, & call them for what they were, barbaric. The USA may have forced them into war with our acts of financial restraints on oil, but with Japan’s warring historical heritage, honoring these wicked barbarians is not psychologically sound.

Aug 27, 2014 11:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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