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Japanese Acknowledge Errors of Past

Former Japanese ambassador Sakutaro Tanino said yesterday that the extreme views expressed recently by some Japanese do not represent the majority of Japanese people.

He was referring to the current controversy over the Japanese government's approval of a textbook that overlooks or justifies Japanese aggression in Asia in the past in his speech at a seminar entitled "China and Her Neighbours" organized by Wilton Park Conferences of Britain yesterday in Beijing.

Sakutaro Tanino, who served as Japanese ambassador to China from 1998 to 2001, said most Japanese people are committed to acknowledging the errors of the nation's past and to living as a peaceful country in the future.

The former ambassador also revealed that Lee Teng-hui, the former leader of Taiwan, would not be given a green-light to visit Japan.

"I received information from the government when I left Japan yesterday that Lee will not be licensed to visit Japan as we think it is not the proper time for him to visit our country," Tanino said.

Lee has been regarded as advocating independence of Taiwan Province from China.

Other speakers at the seminar said that China and Japan should strengthen their political relationship and economic cooperations.

All agreed that a better Sino-Japanese relationship would boost peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.

Speakers included former Australia Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who expressed optimism about the Sino-Japanese relationship.

Japan is China's largest trade partner and second-largest foreign investor after the United States, but trade between China and Japan stalled at the US$60 billion level from 1996 to 1999 because of the 1997 Southeast Asian financial turmoil.

More recently, it has picked up again and rose 25.7 percent year-on-year to US$83.2 billion last year, according to statistics from the General Administration of Customs.

Nosov Mikhail, a senior researcher and deputy director of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, also said the Sino-Japanese relationship would improve as China enters the World Trade Organization and continues to open up its economy.

(China Daily 04/13/2001)

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