Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan, the first of a Chinese premier to Japan in seven years, is of great importance to bilateral cooperation, said Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at a press conference on Tuesday.
He made the remarks on the sidelines of the Fifth Session of the Tenth National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral diplomatic ties, and the two sides should grasp this important opportunity to well handle the fundamental political issues concerning bilateral relationship and to expand and deepen exchanges and cooperation, Li said.
"Lasting friendship between the peoples of China and Japan is the path we should stay firmly on and no one can stop us from doing this," Li said.
The foreign minister also called on Japan to face up to history, take the responsibility, and seriously view and properly handle the issue of "comfort women."
It is a historical fact that "comfort women" issue is a serious crime committed by the Japanese troops during the World War II, said Li.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that Japan would not offer any new apology over the wartime sex slavery issue after he told reporters that "there is no evidence to prove there was coercion" exercised over the foreign women.
It is estimated that during World War II, some 200,000 Asian women were forced to serve sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army. Surviving comfort women have demanded apology and compensation from the Japanese government.
(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2007)