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China, Japan Seek to Repair Soured Ties
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Senior officials from the ruling parties of China and Japan discussed a wide range of issues on Tuesday, aimed at repairing the ties soured by Japanese prime minister's repeated visits to a shrine worshipping WWII war criminals. 


"Hopefully this meeting will serve as a channel for China and Japan to have a smooth exchange of views and break the deadlock as soon as possible," said Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.


The two-day meeting is the first of its kind to be held under the China-Japan Ruling Parties Exchange Mechanism, which was adopted in 2004 by the CPC and Japan's ruling coalition, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komei Party.


"We had a frank and in-depth dialogue," said LDP Policy Chief Hidenao Nakagawa.


"Japan-China friendship constitutes the basis of Asian stability," said Yoshihisa Inoue, policy chief of the Komei Party. "So we should take this into consideration and mend the ties as soon as possible."


Nakagawa and Inoue are the highest ranking officials of the Japanese ruling coalition to visit China in the past two years.


The topics of the meeting ranged from history issues and political relations to trade and regional cooperation, with the shrine visits discussed heatedly by both Chinese and Japanese officials.


"China-Japan relations now stand at a crossroad," said Wang, who was leading the Chinese side in the meeting. "The crux of the strained political relations lies in the Japanese leaders' repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine."


The heads of the two neighboring states have halted exchange of visits for more than four years, ever since Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi began to pay homage to the controversial war shrine soon after he took office in 2001.


Some participants warned at the meeting that the continued political chill between China and Japan would harm the prospering economic ties, which have already seen a slower growth in 2005.


"Stopping shrine visits does not mean that China or Japan is winning or losing the competition," Wang said. "It requires the political wisdom and courage of Japanese leaders to put an immediate end to the shrine visits."


Nakagawa also proposed that the leaders of the two countries should hold meetings as soon as possible to resolve the issue.


Inoue said that "Japan will continuously seek to improve relations with China, no matter who takes Koizumi's place as the prime minister in the coming fall."


On Wednesday, the two sides will focus their discussion on foreign affairs, defense policy and development strategy.


(Xinhua News Agency February 22, 2006)

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