Sun, May 08, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Japan reiterates demand for apology over China protests, Beijing refuses


Japan yesterday renewed a demand that China apologize and compensate for sometimes violent anti-Japanese protests as their foreign ministers tried to find a way through a series of bitter disputes.

Two weeks after the two nations' leaders held a summit in Indonesia, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said he had a "frank" meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) on the neighbors' tense ties.

"We had a frank exchange of views," Machimura said in brief comments to reporters after the one-hour, 35-minute meeting. "It was a meaningful meeting."

Asked if he asked for an apology and compensation for protests which damaged Japanese diplomatic and business interests last month in China, Machimura said, "Yes, I did."

Li refused to apologize.

However, Li and Machimura did acknowledge there had been "some improvement" in rocky relations between the two sides, agreeing the region's stability depended upon their mending ties, Japan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima told reporters.

The two officials, meeting on the sidelines of a two-day Asia-Europe being held in Kyoto, also agreed to pursue discussions on how to compensate Japan for the damage, Takashima said.

"To some extent there was no agreement and to some extent there was, I would say, a certain improvement in the situation," he said.

China and Japan agreed to form a joint committee to study their common history amid a bitter dispute over memories of Japanese occupation, he said.

"The two foreign ministers agreed to commence joint study of history between the two nations. Both countries will select members of the joint study group, and will agree on modalities at the end of this year," he said.

Takashima said China refused Japan's demands for an apology over last month's sometimes violent protests but agreed to study compensation for damages.

"China declined to give an apology. On reparation, the two foreign ministers will instruct their officials to make further study of this issue," he said.

"Japan took note and appreciated that China took serious measures to prevent the recurrence" of protests, he said.

But Li and Machimura clashed openly about how each side's textbooks portray the other country, a Japanese official said.

"Juxtaposing our Chinese history textbook and the textbook of the Japanese rightists is like putting together right and wrong," Li was quoted as telling Machimura.

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