Forum to guide China and Japan

Updated: 2013-10-26 07:52

By Zhang Yunbi and Cai Hong (China Daily)

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Forum to guide China and Japan

From left: Vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges Wei Jianguo, Japanese Ambassador to China Masato Kitera and former UN undersecretary-general Yasushi Akashi exchange ideas before the welcoming banquet at the Beijing-Tokyo Forum in Beijing on Friday. ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Observers say annual gathering can help ease bilateral tensions

More exchanges are expected to help China and Japan dispel doubts and see the way forward at a time of strained bilateral relations, Chinese and Japanese observers said on Friday.

They were speaking a day before the opening of the 9th Beijing-Tokyo Forum in the Chinese capital.

Relations between the two countries have been hit hard by their territorial dispute since September last year.

The forum has become an important channel for communication between China and Japan, former undersecretary-general of the United Nations, Yasushi Akashi, said.

"Such a platform can create a better atmosphere for the governments of China and Japan so that they could have dialogue," said Akashi, who is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International House of Japan, a nonprofit organization promoting cultural exchanges and intellectual cooperation between the people of Japan and other countries.

"It is very important that all participants at the forum ... have serious and sincere talks even if they cannot reach consensus on all issues," Akashi said. In doing so, they can prevent bilateral relations from deteriorating further and help improve relations step by step.

Gao Anming, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily, said, "I hope that the 9th Beijing-Tokyo Forum will produce the atmosphere for improving China-Japan relations." China Daily and Japan's nonprofit organization Genron NPO jointly organize the forum.

Li Wei, director of the Institute of Japan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the two countries should uphold the spirit of the China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty.

Beijing celebrated the 35th anniversary of the treaty's signing early this week. China and Japan exchanged its official text in October 1978.

At a discussion on bilateral relations in Beijing on Friday, opinion leaders from the two countries were asked to help "eliminate hostility" between their two peoples at a time when mutual goodwill has dropped to a record low for the past decade.

Wu Huaizhong, director of the department of Japanese politics of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that learning to respect each other may be the top priority for the two countries in dealing with the increasingly conflicting sentiments between their two peoples.

Harunobu Kato, executive commentator for leading Japanese television broadcaster NHK, said the country's opinion leaders should tell the Japanese public that China will not invade Japan and that the two neighbors will achieve peaceful development together.

On Wednesday, Tokyo launched a video campaign that aims to boost its claims to China's Diaoyu Islands, despite strong protests from Beijing.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at a news conference in Tokyo on Friday that Japan will continue to explain its position on the islands to all the countries around the world.

Liu Jiangyong, an expert on Japanese studies and the deputy dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, said it is unlikely that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will change his policy toward China before his term ends.

Amid the standoff between the two nations over the islands, Japanese self-defense forces will conduct a drill for retaking islands from Nov 1 to 8, the Japanese defense ministry announced this week.

Launched in 2005, the annual forum has become an showcase for public diplomacy, gathering opinion leaders from China and Japan.

Prominent figures to attend the forum this year, on Saturday and Sunday, include Yasuo Fukuda, former Japanese prime minister, Cai Mingzhao, minister of the State Council Information Office, Masato Kitera, Japanese ambassador to China and Tang Jiaxuan, former state councilor.

The forum will touch on issues such as politics, economy, diplomacy and security.

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(China Daily 10/26/2013 page1)