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Ambassador Talks to Japanese Press on Sensitive Issues

Wang Yi held his first press conference since taking up his position as Chinese Ambassador to Japan at the Tokyo Journalists’ Club on Monday. He clarified China's policies toward Japan and its stand on history and Taiwan issues.


Wang said that the crux of the Yasukuni Shrine issue is the Japanese government's treatment of history. The shrine honors 14 Class-A war criminals who launched and commanded Japan's war of aggression, many of whom were involved in the invasion of China. These men committed heinous crimes against the Chinese people, and also caused the citizens of Japan to suffer as a result of war.


Paying homage to these convicted criminals hurts the victims of wartime aggression and the visits undermine the political basis of Sino-Japanese relations. The Chinese people, said Wang, were the biggest victims of Japan's militarism, and naturally cannot accept official worship at Yasukuni Shrine.


The issue is not an internal affair of Japan but a serious diplomatic problem concerning international justice. Both Japan and China should treat the issue in accordance with the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement and international conventions.


The Chinese government hopes that Japan's leaders will change their attitudes and avoid activities that harm the feelings of Chinese people, showing consideration for Sino-Japanese relations overall and long-term bilateral interests.


Some Japanese media have made references to “China’s anti-Japanese education.” Wang Yi pointed out that like other countries in the world, China provides patriotic education. This is not anti-Japanese education, he said.


Since the time of Chairman Mao Zedong, any targeting of Japan in education is to inform people that a few Japanese militarists should be held responsible for Japan's war of aggression against China, and that many Japanese were also victims of the war.


Because of education provided concerning China's friendly relations with Japan, Chinese families raised many Japanese war orphans and the two countries have normalized their formal diplomatic relations.


The friendly relationship between China and Japan should be carried on by all generations, said Wang.


He also discussed China’s gas exploration in the East China Sea, in an area that is located in the non-disputed economic zone belonging to China. In consideration of its relations with Japan, China offered to hold negotiations on East China Sea issues to enhance the understanding through discussion and seek solutions.


Both China and Japan have claimed their rights to 200-nautical-mile economic zones, but because the East China Sea is less than 400 nautical miles wide, the countries' claims overlap.


According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the two sides should negotiate to find a mutually acceptable solution to the issue.


Wang said that all factors must be considered in arriving at such a solution, including geographical considerations.


Although the two sides have not yet reached a mutually agreeable solution, Wang said that he hopes that both parties will handle these issues according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.


(China.org.cn October 20, 2004)

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