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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Envoy appears to soften rhetoric


Staff writer

Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wang Yi gave an indication Tuesday that China is willing to improve the sorry state of Sino-Japanese ties, by making a speech that avoided direct mention of Yasukuni Shrine.

In his speech in Tokyo, Wang emphasized that historical issues are the only stumbling blocks between the two nations' leaders and said Japan must make the effort to rectify them.

The speech signaled a shift in attitude on the part of Beijing, which has publicly and repeatedly demanded that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stop visiting the shrine.

"I believe it is a matter on which Japan would make a decision voluntarily," Wang told a meeting of the Asian Affairs Research Council, a nonprofit public organization.

Quoting earlier remarks by Chinese President Hu Jintao, Wang said China will firmly maintain its diplomatic policy, which attaches great importance to its relationship with Japan, and will keep deepening private exchanges and mutual understanding between the two countries.

If Tokyo overcomes the "issues we're now facing" -- an apparent reference to their differences on history -- Hu will be willing to meet Japan's top leaders at any time to improve relations, Wang said. "(These are) very importance messages (from Hu). If we handle the history issues appropriately, we will get over the most difficult part, and it would help other issues too."



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The Japan Times

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