Sat, Feb 11, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Japan and China resume dialogue

AFP , TOKYO

A Chinese envoy called yesterday for better ties with Japan as the neighbors opened their first talks in four months looking ahead to the end of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's tenure.

China's vice foreign minister Dai Bingguo (戴秉國) said opposing Koizumi's visits to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine was a "matter of principle" and hoped the situation would change.

"It is no good to let such circumstances continue for a long time," the Chinese envoy said in a meeting with the head of the New Komeito, Koizumi's Buddhist-oriented coalition partner.

"It is extremely important to make an effort for the sake of the beautiful future of both China and Japan," Dai said, as quoted by Jiji Press.

He later opened closed-door talks with his Japanese counterpart Shotaro Yachi. Discussions will continue when the two shift to a hot-spring resort in northern Niigata prefecture today.

It is the first such meeting since October, when Koizumi paid an annual pilgrimage to Yasukuni, which honors Japanese war dead including World War II war criminals and is seen by neighboring countries as a symbol of militarism.

Japanese media said that diplomats from the two countries appeared to be trying to repair relations without a strong initiative from Koizumi, who has promised to step down in September after more than five years in office.

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