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Majority Believe China-Japan Relations 'Important'
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Over 75 percent of Chinese citizens believe that a good relationship with Japan is "important", according to a survey in Monday's China Youth Daily.

The survey of 2,948 people across China follows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "ice-breaking" visit to China on Oct. 8-9.

About 76.9 percent of respondees believed that a good China-Japan relationship is "very important" or "relatively important", according to the survey, which was sponsored by the newspaper.

"Only 7.1 percent believed it is 'not important' or 'not very important'," the report said.

Meanwhile, the newspaper said about 45.2 percent of the people believed that Abe's China visit has had a "positive impact" on frosty China-Japan ties, 6.5 percentage higher than those who disagreed.

The newspaper also quoted a poll by Japan's Kyodo News Service on Oct. 10 and 11, saying that 83.2 percent of the Japanese people took a "positive" or "fairly positive" view of Abe's recent visit to China and the Republic of Korea.

"The survey results show people's desire for China-Japan friendship," the report said.

Relations between China and Japan turned cold when former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi persisted in visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese class-A war criminals from World War II are honored among the country's war dead.

Abe, who took office on Sept. 26, is the first Japanese postwar prime minister to choose China as the destination of his first official overseas trip. His visit was also the first by a Japanese prime minister to China in the last five years.

The newspaper also pointed out that most Chinese believe that Japan's attempt to whitewash its wartime history and Japanese leaders' visits to the Yasukuni Shrine are the two major obstacles to bilateral ties.

93.4 percent of Chinese people believe that the Yasukuni Shrine issue must be handled in a proper way in order to maintain a long-term, stable and healthy China-Japan relationship.

The newspaper quoted unnamed analysts who said both Chinese and Japanese leaders showed great sincerity during Abe's China visit. They hoped that China-Japan relations would "shine brightly after the gloom".

On the historical issues, Abe told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that Japan had caused severe damage and pain to the Asian people during World War II. He said he felt, and would continue to feel, deep remorse about that period of history.

The newspaper said the Chinese people welcomed Abe's attitude towards history, and remained "prudently optimistic" about China-Japan ties since Abe had not yet made it clear whether or not he would visit the Yasukuni Shrine in the future.

According to the survey, 45.4 percent of Chinese people believe that "it is hard to tell" whether relations between China and Japan will improve.

Those who are optimistic about bilateral ties and those who are not each represent about 27 percent, the newspaper said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 16, 2006)

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