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People's Daily Online

Rights and wrongs crystal clear: Xi to Abe

People's Daily Online

By Bai Tiantian (Global Times) 07:53, November 11, 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday held their first meeting since taking office, with Xi saying that the rights and wrongs of the last two years of tense Sino-Japanese ties were 'crystal clear.'

The 30-minute meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on the sidelines of the APEC Leaders' Meeting, was arranged at the request of the Japanese side. It comes as Abe is facing growing pressure from domestic economic sectors and the US to mend ties with China.

A photo released by the Xinhua News Agency shows both leaders looking stern as they shook hands. Lianhe Zaobao, a newspaper based in Singapore, interpreted their facial expressions as carrying a symbolic meaning, showing the two countries still have a long way to go before their relations return to normal.

During the meeting, Xi told Abe that China hopes that Japan continues to follow the path of peaceful development and adopt prudent military and security policies.

He noted that both sides have reached a four point agreement to improve bilateral ties, and expressed hope that the Japanese side would properly handle related issues in line with the agreement.

The four point agreement was reached Friday as both countries agreed to resume political, diplomatic and security dialogues while acknowledging 'different positions' on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands. Both sides claim sovereignty of the isles in the East China Sea.

Xi said Japan must follow political agreements signed between China and Japan and honor the commitments made by successive Japanese administrations, including a speech by former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995, in which he stated that Japan, through colonial rule and aggression, had caused great damage and suffering to people of many countries, particularly in Asia, and that no such mistake should be made in the future.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Abe said that he had asked for a maritime hotline to be established to prevent clashes at sea.

'I asked him that we implement a maritime communication mechanism, and I think we will start working on concrete steps toward it,' Abe said. 'It was the first step for improving relations by returning to the starting point of mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests,' he added.

Abe said Japan is determined to continue the path of peaceful development, noting that the current Japanese administration will maintain the same views held by previous governments on historic issues.

'It was a rare statement made by Abe. It implies that the current Japanese administration will follow the 'four political documents' and 'two statements,' namely the Murayama Statement and Kono Statement,' Liu Junhong, a professor at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

The 'four political documents' refers to four agreements signed between the two countries in 1972, 1978, 1998 and 2008 that set the legal and political basis for Sino-Japanese cooperation.

The Kono Statement was issued by Japan's former chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono, who in 1993 declared that the Imperial Japanese Army was responsible for forcing Chinese and Korean women into sexual slavery.

Kono's statement was criticized by some Japanese conservatives including Abe, who in 2007 stated that he did not believe the women were forced into sexual slavery. A government panel also announced this year that the Kono Statement was not based solely on historical evidence, drawing denunciations from China and South Korea.

'Although Abe has refused to acquiesce to the request that he no longer visit the Yasukuni Shrine, his future behavior will be restrained, to some extent, by this statement [about historic issues],' Zhou Yongsheng, a professor from China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

During the meeting, Abe also said Japan is willing to implement the four-point agreement and acknowledged that 'China's peaceful development is a significant opportunity for Japan and the world.'

Both sides agree that the frozen ties have impacted economic relations. Japan's direct investment into China fell more than 40 percent during the first nine months of the year, Reuters reported.

'Aside from growing pressure from the US to mend ties with China, one of Abe's most crucial tasks is to make Abenomics succeed … He is well aware that in order to boost Japan's economy he needs both structural reform and outside help. The latter would require China's participation,' Huang Dahui, director of the Center for East Asia Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.

Xinhua contributed to this story

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