Thursday, May 08, 2008

President Hu Jintao's visit to Japan: some latest news

Yesterday, Japan’s Prime Minister and China’s President signed joint statements where the two leaders agreed to solve their territorial problems. They also agreed to hold an annual summit alternating between China and Japan and vowed to work jointly to stop global warming.

In a press conference, Yasuo Fukuda said that China and Japan had no other way but to take the path of peace and friendship and cooperation as neighbors. The two leaders said that they had confirmed that the two nations were cooperative partners, not threats to each other. In the conference, the leaders did not raise the gas field issue of East China sea but Fukuda said that the two countries had a solution in sight. President Hu also met with leaders of major Chinese and Japanese oil companies that were planning to launch a joint venture project.

On the same day, President Hu Jintao also met Japanese Emperor Akihito at the Tokyo Royal Palace. The President received a red carpet welcome and guard of honor. The emperor drank to the success of China in hosting the upcoming Olympics.

According to Japanese officials, President Hu did not show much interest in talking about Japan’s seat in the UN Security Council. Through this visit, both the leaders are trying to revive their image. Fukuda is trying to regain popularity; on the contrary, China is trying to regain its positive image as for the past few weeks the country has been facing international pressure regarding Tibet issue.

Today is the third day of President Hu Jintao’s five day visit. On the breakfast meeting, President Hu met with former Japanese Prime Ministers but Junichiro Koizumi was not invited. During his tenure as Japan’s Prime Minister, Koizumi went to the Yasukuni Shrine to pay homage to the dead soldiers of Japan. This created serious tension between China and Japan.

The President then went to the Waseda University. In his speech at the university, President Hu addressed the people of the two countries to forget their bitter war time history and build a broad partnership. International Herald Tribune reports:

The president's comments at the elite Waseda University on the wartime past were crucial, as Beijing has often accused Tokyo of failing to properly atone for its military conquests on the Asian mainland in the 1930s and 40s.

In his 30-minute address, Hu mentioned Japan's "militaristic invasion of China," but that it should not be dwelled upon.

"This unfortunate history not only caused tremendous suffering to the Chinese people but also gravely hurt the Japanese people," he said. "It's important for us to remember history, but this does not mean we should hold grudges."

While the President was delivering his speech, anti-China protesters had a fight with the police.A right-leaning alumni group of the university demanded to cancel the speech.

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International Herald Tribune