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Mending Damaged Ties
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As if to illustrate the emerging optimism in the long-strained ties between China and Japan, the morning rain in Beijing cleared as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plane touched down. His visit is his first official overseas trip in his new capacity.

That Abe chose Beijing as his first overseas destination as new Japanese leader, and that the Chinese leaders decided to host the Japanese guest during an all-important Communist Party plenary session, which is expected to guide national development, speaks volumes about the weight both parties attached to the visit.

We are glad to see that leaders of both nations have finally arrived at a consensus about the urgent need to shore up political relations that have been damaged by Junichiro Koizumi's recalcitrant visits to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine.

Their shared resolve to repair and upgrade bilateral political ties, as shown in the joint communique Sunday, was a hard-earned blessing to both countries, the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Abe's trip to Beijing gives leaders of both countries an opportunity to salvage bilateral ties bogged down by Koizumi's disregard of his neighbor's sensitivities.

During their meetings, Abe and his Chinese hosts talked a lot about strategic perspective. We hope to see more of that, an invaluable political asset scarce in the Koizumi cabinet, in their approach to bilateral ties.

We have taken note of Abe's progressive attitude to such historical problems as Japanese atrocities during World War II. We appreciate his personal commitment not to embellish his country's past sins.

Premier Wen Jiabao said Abe's visit opened a "window of hope" for bilateral relations. There is much to be desired between the two neighbors.

Wen's proposals to restore exchanges of visits by national leaders, retain strategic dialogue, enhance consultations about regional affairs, and broaden co-operation on technical levels are a prescription of hope and trust.

Abe had pledged to repair his country's Asia diplomacy. His trip to Beijing can be a fine starting point.

Talking about the sunshine in Beijing, Abe said he believed ties would also see a bright future, like the sky after rain.

State leaders are responsible for the political climate between countries. They can put ties in the sunlight, as long as they have such a political will.

Leaders of both countries have vowed to take care of each other's concerns.

Let us hope they do.

(China Daily October 9, 2006)


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