Japan, China agree to promote bilateral ties, resolve dispute


Tokyo : Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao vowed Wednesday to promote bilateral strategic, mutually beneficial relations, with holding regular summits and either of the two countries’ leaders visiting the other country every year.

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During their summit meeting here, the two leaders also agreed to resolve a long-running dispute over energy rights in the East China Sea and to make the sea “a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship,” according to a joint statement issued after the talks.

Asia’s two largest economic powers also agreed to be “cooperative partners that will not be a threat to each other,” said the statement, which called for a mutually beneficial strategic relationship.

Hu arrived in Japan Tuesday for the first visit by a Chinese president in ten years, a visit which he called “warm, spring trip.” “We agreed that the two naitons should deepen mutual understanding and mutual trust, and expand mutual cooperation to seek a better future for Asia and the world,” Fukuda told the press conference after the meeting.

“We will also cooperate for a speedy resolution on East China Sea gas fields, as Japan and China have held meaningful discussions and made significant progress,” he said.

For his part, Hu said, “We both believe relations between China and Japan are at a new starting point, and that the both should strive to develop their relations.” “The Chinese government highly values Prime Minister Fukuda’s positive efforts for improvement of Sino-Japan relations,” he added.

On Tibet, Fukuda said he welcomed China’s meeting with the Dalai Lama’s envoys on Sunday, while Hu promised continued dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s side to resolve the problem.

As a symbol of friendly ties between the two countries, Hu also offered to lend a pair of giant pandas to Japan to replace the Tokyo zoo’s male panda, who died last week.

The two countries issued a series of joint documents, one of which was the fourth landmark paper between the two countries since the normalization of diplomatic ties in 1972. The three preceding documents are the Japan-China Joint Communique of 1972, the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1978 and a joint declaration in 1998.

Chinese leaders suspended bilateral top-level contact with Japan from 2001 to 2006 because of then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated visits to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The shrine honors war dead, including Japanese officials found guilty of war crimes at the end of World War II. But the bilateral ties warmed after Fukuda’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, took over from Koizumi and visited China in October 2006. Fukuda also paid a visit to China last year.