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Sino-Japanese ties
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China and Japan are both determined to improve bilateral relations in the year ahead and beyond.

Following Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's visit to China, President Hu Jintao is due to tour Japan in April.

As bilateral relations turn for the better, the government has been going out of its way to grant preferential treatment to Fukuda. His speech at Peking University on Friday was televised live across the country, setting a precedent for a Japanese prime minister. The banquet President Hu threw for Fukuda on Friday night also indicated that bilateral relations are warming up.

To solidify and improve Sino-Japanese relations, the two countries need to keep exchanges at a high level.

Fukuda told his Chinese hosts that he is willing to build a personal relationship of trust with them.

The willingness of the leaders of the two countries to achieve understanding and trust will also help the two peoples better understand each other.

The two countries will start the project with their younger generations, with a number of such programs being held in the year ahead. For neighbors like China and Japan, young people need chances to know each other, as they will be the leaders of the future.

The two countries did not rush to issue a joint statement for Fukuda's China trip. They signed three agreements on the environment and youth exchanges.

Compared with European leaders, who are normally accompanied by a large entourage of business people when visiting China, Fukuda has a small group of companions. The reason is simple: China and Japan held a high-level dialogue on economic issues one month before his visit.

The smooth progress of bilateral relations has paved the way for trade and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

As a result, their leaders' visits to each other's country should not necessarily become a pompous occasion for signing deals.

Though Fukuda has put almost everything - politics, trade and culture - on his agenda during his China trip, his tight itinerary does not deal with thorny issues.

For instance, the issue of history is not the focal point of the visit, as Fukuda clarified that he will stay away from the Yasukuni Shrine. At Peking University, Fukuda said Japan must examine its wrongdoings. Japan can steel clear of its past by conducting soul-searching with a brave and open mind,

The two countries are learning to handle their problems from a long-term, strategic perspective.

(China Daily December 29, 2007)

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