Japan, China still at loggerheads over compensation


Mon, May 16, 2005 - Page 1

Japan and China failed to agree on compensation for damages caused by violent anti-Japan riots across China last month following two days of intensive meetings, but both sides will keep up discussions, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and news reports said yesterday.

Visiting Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi and his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo (戴秉國) agreed to meet again as early as next month in Tokyo for further talks, Japan's Kyodo News agency said.

"We deepened [our] mutual understanding," Kyodo quoted Yachi as telling reporters late on Saturday after wrapping up the talks that lasted 15 hours. "But there is no final settlement."

The Japanese Foreign Ministry did not comment yesterday.

China's Foreign Ministry said the talks concluded with both sides agreeing to maintain dialogue.

They "deeply exchanged views on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of concern," the ministry said in a brief statement posted on its Web site.

"Both sides think this dialogue is positive and valuable and agree to continue the process," it said. No other details were provided.

Yachi also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) during his trip.

Relations between the two countries plummeted last month after anti-Japanese demonstrations in China were sparked by Tokyo's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and new Japanese textbooks criticized for downplaying the country's wartime atrocities.

Thousands of rioters took to the streets and damaged the Japanese Embassy in Beijing and the consulate in Shanghai as police stood by watching. They also smashed windows at restaurants serving Japanese food and overturned Japanese cars.

China reportedly offered this week to compensate Japan for broken windows and other acts of vandalism by protesters.

Yachi and Dai also talked about finding a solution to the international standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program, Kyodo said.

Six-way disarmament talks -- between the two Koreas, China, US, Russia and Japan -- on the North's nuclear ambitions have been stalled since last June. On Friday, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said Tokyo was considering resorting to five-party talks.

Machimura also defended the approval of Japanese history textbooks, saying, "In Japan, there are absolutely no textbooks that glorify militarism," Kyodo reported.

During their meeting, Dai and Yachi also touched on gas exploration rights in the East China Sea, which divides China's eastern coast and Japan's southern island chain of Okinawa.

Citing Machimura, Kyodo reported on Saturday that the two sides will hold talks on May 30 on the issue.

Meanwhile, Japan plans to build about a dozen new factories in China to treat chemical weapons abandoned by the Imperial Army at the end of World War II, in an effort to speed up a cleanup project begun in 1997.

Under the plan, Japan will build plants in Harbin, Beijing, Nanjing and nine other areas where the abandoned chemical weapons are stored and start processing them in three years, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said yesterday.