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Japan 'Army Man to Study' in China
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Japan's Ministry of Defense plans to send an official to study at a Chinese military university this autumn, the Daily Yomiuri has reported.


The arrangement could be the first since normalization of China-Japan ties in 1972.


But the Chinese national defense department has not confirmed the report.


The newspaper said the decision was taken by Japan's Defense Ministry in the hope of resuming military ties with China following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ice-breaking visit to China last October and Premier Wen Jiabao's ice-thawing return visit in April.


Also, Japan has decided to send its military officials to Pakistan for a one-year military course. The move is aimed at strengthening mutual trust with China and Pakistan, the report quoted Japanese Defense Ministry sources as saying.


Japan traditionally sends its military officials to countries with which it has close military ties such as the US, South Korea, Australia and European countries to receive training.


Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan is likely to visit Japan this autumn, in the latest sign of warming up of ties between the neighbors. The trip would be the first of its kind in almost a decade, and is likely to be followed by a Chinese warship visiting a Japanese port for the first time.


The two neighbors couldn't establish defense ties for years because of rocky relations, for which former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was partly to blame. Koizumi continued visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 class-A World War II criminals and is seen by many Asian countries as a symbol of Japan's militarist past.


A Japanese navy vessel will probably pay a return visit to China next year.


The military exchanges between the two countries, despite being limited, are expected to improve mutual understanding and play an important role in bettering relations, Professor Fan Zhenjiang, of the National Defense University of China, said.


China and Japan agreed to work together to build a mechanism for defense hotline when Premier Wen Jiabao was in Tokyo in April.


(China Daily July 5, 2007)

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