China sets requirements for improved Japan relations

By Mahmut Atanur

BEIJING (AA) – China’s foreign minister told his Japanese counterpart Saturday that Tokyo should “reflect upon history” and avoid engaging with rhetoric of a “China threat” if bilateral relations are to improve.

Tokyo’s top diplomat, Fumio Kishida, is in Beijing for a bilateral visit from Friday to Sunday — the first by a Japanese foreign minister in around four and a half years.

During Saturday’s talks, China’s Wang Yi called on Tokyo to set aside “the confrontation mentality” and cooperate with Beijing for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

He said that while there were signs of improvement in the countries’ relations, a “lack of trust” persisted, which Wang associated with “Japan’s outlook on history and China”.

Meanwhile, Kishida told reporters after the meeting, which lasted more than four hours, that he and Wang “confirmed the importance of Japan-China relations and for a further improvement we agreed that both sides will make efforts.”

Japanese news agency Kyodo also quoted him as saying that the two sides also agreed to coordinate in arranging a bilateral diplomatic schedule for this year.

Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in Dec. 2012, he and Chinese President Xi Jinping have only met twice on the sidelines of international summits.

Prior to their talks in Nov. 2014, there had been no high-level dialogue between the countries since Sept. 2012, when the Japanese government purchased three of the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea.

The islands, known as the Diaoyu islands by China, are claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing.

In addition to disagreements over territorial claims, relations have been tense due to historic issues such as the Japanese imperial army’s capture of the Chinese city of Nanjing in 1937 and the so-called “comfort women” forced into military brothels.