Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda enjoyed a round of baseball diplomacy with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao (
Fukuda and Wen smiled in front of the cameras while playing catch with a baseball following a breakfast meeting on the third day of the Japanese leader's landmark visit to China.
Fukuda held talks with Wen and President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) on Friday to lay the groundwork for closer cooperation between the countries in trade, climate change and other fields, but a dispute over maritime gas fields remained unresolved.
"I have asked Prime Minister Wen to play catch with me," Japanese officials quoted Fukuda as telling Wen during a meeting on Friday.
"I'm glad to play with you whenever," Wen replied, prompting laughter by diplomats of the two countries.
Fukuda is on a four-day visit aimed at deepening ties between the two Asian giants that has long been wracked over Japan's World War II invasion of China.
In Friday talks, the two countries agreed to continue to negotiate a territorial dispute over lucrative gas fields in the East China Sea and raise discussions to the vice-ministerial level in order to bring a "quick" solution.
Prior to his trip, Fukuda had expressed hopes that the resolution of the dispute could be reached during the visit.
Eleven rounds of negotiations on the gas fields since 2004 have made little progress, with China rejecting the maritime border which Japan considers a starting point for discussions.
After departing Beijing yesterday, Fukuda was scheduled to visit Tianjin before a trip to the ancestral home of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (
In Tianjin, Fukuda will inspect Japanese investments, including a Toyota Motor Corp plant and have lunch with the city's Communist Party boss Zhang Gaoli (
China cut high-level contacts with Japan during Junichiro Koizumi's terms as prime minister from 2001 until last year over his visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, which venerates war criminals who invaded China, alongside another 2.5 million war dead.
Fukuda -- whose father, late prime minister Takeo Fukuda, signed a landmark friendship treaty with China in 1978 -- and his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, have stayed away from the shrine, paving the way for the dramatic thaw in bilateral relations.
In Japan, newspapers yesterday applauded the thawing of ties between Japan and China.
The influential Asahi Shimbun hailed the four-day trip as successful and pointed to a "leap forward" in bilateral ties between the Asian powers.
"The time has come when we can talk about the `leap forward,'" the newspaper said in an editorial referring to a phrase that Fukuda has used.
The leading business Nikkei Shimbun was more skeptical.
Although it agreed "top-level diplomacy" appeared back on track, it lamented that "the pending issue over gas fields has been virtually put off."
"It is regrettable that the issue was not solved by the top leaders," it said.
"Although nearly 5 million people from Japan and China visit each other's country every year nowadays, mutual confidence in a true sense has not been enhanced," the Nikkei said. "We wish to see a first step in a `leap forward' in Japan-China relations through steady exchanges at various levels."
The mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun said both countries should find "mutually acceptable ideas" on the gas field issue, including areas where they can jointly develop gas, before Hu visits Tokyo next year.
The conservative Sankei Shimbun called on both countries to build an "irreversible, sustainable, genuine reciprocal relationship" and questioned China's commitment to improved relations.
It demanded China stop "anti-Japanese education," pointing to an increase in exhibits at a Chinese museum emphasizing the brutality of Japanese troops during their aggression in China.
"There is a question mark over China's true intentions," it said.
Offering Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccines to the public in Singapore for the first time since Friday, several private clinics reported overwhelming demand for the Chinese-made shot, despite already available rival vaccines having far higher efficacy. Singapore has vaccinated almost half its 5.7 million population with at least one dose of the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both have shown efficacy rates of well over 90 percent against symptomatic disease in clinical trials, compared with Sinovac’s 51 percent. Earlier this week, officials in Indonesia said that more than 350 medical workers have caught COVID-19, despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been
When COVID-19 arrived in India, few places looked as vulnerable as Mumbai. However, a year on, South Asia’s most crowded city has surprised many by tackling a vicious second wave of the virus with considerable success. Gaurav Awasthi even traveled hundreds of kilometers from his home on the outskirts of Delhi to get his ailing wife a hospital bed there, paying an ambulance more than US$1,000 to drive 24 hours straight. “I cannot ever repay my debt to this city,” the 29-year-old said, recounting an ordeal that saw him spend five days fruitlessly searching for a bed across several cities, including Delhi.
CROWDED HOSPITALS: Deaths have begun to pick up as the COVID-19 hospitalization rate exceed 70 percent in 87 cities across the country, government data showed Indonesia’s COVID-19 cases are nearing 2 million, with hospitals starting to fill up as the country grapples with the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus. The government confirmed 13,737 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 1.99 million. Deaths have begun to pick up as the COVID-19 hospitalization rate exceed 70 percent in 87 cities across the country, with 371 people dying from the disease on Sunday — the worst since April, government data showed. “Because this is concentrated in certain regencies and cities, we can still mobilize resources from other areas,” Indonesian National Nurses Association chairman Harif Fadhillah said. “If
NEW APPROACH NEEDED? The royals, despite seeing themselves as above politics, are under tremendous pressure to urge parliament to reconvene, an expert said Malaysia’s royal leaders were to meet yesterday amid growing public anger over the Malaysian government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic during a state of emergency that has left democracy suspended for a year. The meeting, to be chaired by Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at 2:30pm, comes as daily COVID-19 infections averaged about 5,800 in the past seven days, nearly double than when Malaysia declared emergency rule in January. “The issue now is whether the emergency, which is set to end Aug. 1, should be continued,” Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, the head of the ruling United Malays National Organization’s youth wing,