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China-Japan Ties Suffer from Japan's Taiwan Remark
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Chinese diplomatic experts said on Monday that the blatant and repeated provocative remarks distorting history made by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso have severely offended the Chinese people and would gravely worsen the already frosty China-Japan relations.


Aso said in Fukuoka on Saturday: "Thanks to the significant improvement in educational standards and literacy (during the colonization), Taiwan is now a country with a very high education level and it keeps up with the current era."


An Ran, an expert on Taiwan's anti-Japanese movement, said that during the 50-year-long Japanese rule in Taiwan, the Japanese imperialists not only deliberately imposed its culture on local people but also strained every nerve to suppress the spread of Chinese traditional culture, enslaving and assimilating Taiwan people through ideological and spiritual movements.


"These movements greatly infringed upon the traditional culture and the independent ethnic spirit cherished by the Taiwan people, and brought about a grave disaster rather than contributing to Taiwan society," An said.


Taiwan has been an inalienable part of China. In 1895, after a war of aggression against China, Japan forced the Qing government to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki and forcibly occupied Taiwan.


Following Japan's World War II defeat in 1945, Taiwan was returned to China, as ordered by the Potsdam Proclamation and the Cairo Declaration.


Aso also said last October, shortly after assuming office, that China and the Republic of Korea were the only countries in the world to be fussy about the Yasukuni Shrine visits.


At the end of last year, Aso attacked China by saying it "is beginning to pose a considerable threat."


On January 28, Aso said that a visit to the controversial shrine by the emperor "would be the best." On Saturday, Aso, once again, made absurd remarks glorifying Japan's invasion history.


"Aso's derogatory remarks reflect the mindset of Japan's right-wing forces," Liu Jiangyong, a professor from Qinghua University in Beijing, said.


Experts pointed out that since China and Japan normalized ties in 1972, the issue of recognition of Japan's invasion of China and the Taiwan issue have long been elements affecting China-Japan relations.


"Aso's remarks, which connected with the invasion issue and the Taiwan issue, are an obvious provocation to China and a brazen challenge to the basis of bilateral ties," Liu, who has studied China-Japan relations for more than a decade, said.


Yao Wenli, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China-Japan relations should be based on the correct review of history, which can be summarized as "taking history as if it is a mirror, and looking forward to the future."


"But the senior Japanese diplomat took an incorrect view of history, sweetening the history of aggression and calling Taiwan 'a country'," Yao said, adding Aso's act was a violation of the spirit of the China-Japan Joint Statement and the commitment of the Japanese government.


"As foreign minister, Aso is in the position to mend the soured China-Japan relations. But the fact is, he is not a peace-maker, but a trouble-maker," Liu said, likening Aso's act to "pouring oil on the fire".


The fact that Japan does not correctly deal with the historical issue has also aroused the interest of the international community.


At the recently-concluded 42nd Munich Conference on Security Policy on Sunday, a group of delegates, led by a German delegate, asked deputy Japanese Foreign Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki: "Why does Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi keep visiting the shrine that honors convicted Class-A war criminals?"


Experts maintained that Aso's defiant remarks also reflect his personal political ambition. "To win political competition, Aso has taken a hard-line attitude toward China, in a bid to win over the Japanese right-wing and create an image of a tough politician," Liu said.


Koizumi and Aso had stated earlier this year that Japan would further enhance its "friendly", "cooperative" ties with China into the future, saying it is an "unshakable" principle of his government. However, experts said Japan's behavior differs widely from such a statement and makes people doubt its sincerity to improve China-Japan relationship.


(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2006)

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