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Fukuda calls for 'creative partnership' with China
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Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said on Friday that a strategic and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship shall be based on reciprocal cooperation, international contributions as well as mutual understanding and trust.

Japan had set a new phase of "strategic and mutually beneficial relations" for improving ties during an "ice-breaking" trip to China by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in October 2006.

In a very tight schedule of talks and meetings with China's top leaders on Friday, Fukuda spared more than 40 minutes to speak at Peking University, where he projected a warmer bilateral relationship to 600-odd Chinese students with his sincerity and humor.

When a Chinese girl majoring in Japanese asked him how to build "strategic and mutually beneficial relations", Fukuda responded agilely.

"You speak so good Japanese. You can go to Japan for further studies, exchange ideas with Japanese girls and tell them of women's status in China, such as women in China can still work after marriage and giving birth to babies. Isn't it mutually beneficial?" he replied.

He also called on the two countries to develop a "creative" partnership during the speech.

"Japan and China shall become creative partners in building Asia and the world's beautiful future," he said.

Fukuda told the students that the two countries would strengthen cooperation in sectors such as energy saving, environmental protection and intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.

He said Japan was willing to share with China both its experience and lessons in environmental protection and suggested a relevant information platform and a consultation center be set up in China.

The two sides reached a series of cooperation agreements in fields of youth exchange, climate change and energy research, following 2.5 hours of talks between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Fukuda on Friday morning.

Japan would also help China to train 10,000 young people on energy-saving and environmental protection technologies in three years. In addition, about 50 young Chinese researchers on climate change would be invited to visit Japan annually in the following four years, according to the agreements.

In his speech, Fukuda also pointed out China's smooth development was correlative with Japan's progress.

Japan would firmly support China's reform and opening-up drive. This was not only in favor with its own future, but also a correct choice having benefited Japan, Asia and the world, he said.

When talking about "international contributions", Fukuda suggested the two countries further cooperated in anti-terrorism, climate change, promotion of northeast Asia's peace and stability, UN reform, Africa's development and poverty relief work.

Titled "building the future together", half of Fukuda's speech advocated youth exchange.

"The younger generation, like you, is the hope of the future. Tomorrow's China-Japan relations will also rely on you," Fukuda said.

The number of people shuttling between Japan and China each day had reached 13,000, and events such as the Beijing Olympics in 2008 were believed to provide more opportunities for bilateral communications.

Dressed in a black suit with a blue tie, Fukuda was the second Japanese prime minister to have delivered a speech at the prestigious university in the past 23 years, following Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1984.

"His humor and affability impressed me a lot," said Jiang Yang, a Peking University sophomore. "I hope I can make my own efforts to boost exchanges of youth between China and Japan."

(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2007)

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