In a rare move, China and Japan exchange congratulatory messages to mark anniversary of peace treaty

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/12 22:28:41

Japan should put words into action to enhance trust: expert

China stressed the importance of properly handling disputes to help restore the normal development of China-Japan relations on Sunday, which marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that Beijing is willing to join hands with Tokyo to work for the long-term healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, in congratulatory messages exchanged with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday to mark the treaty's anniversary.

Li said China is willing to work with Japan to safeguard the political foundation of the bilateral relationship, deepen cooperation for mutual benefits, properly handle differences and promote a sound and stable long-term development in bilateral ties.

In his message, Abe said that thanks to joint efforts, relations between the two countries have substantially developed in politics, economies, culture and people-to-people exchanges, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

The last time congratulatory messages were exchanged between a Chinese and Japanese prime minister was in 2008, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported. 

"The exchange of messages is a sign that the two countries are making efforts to improve relations that went sour in the last decade over territorial and historical reasons," Da Zhigang, director of the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Northeast Asian Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The messages have shown China's positive attitude and goodwill toward healthy and stable bilateral relations, and the two countries should seize the opportunity and prevent territorial and historical disputes from derailing the good momentum, Da said.

In May, the Chinese premier visited Japan, where he also attended the seventh China-Japan-South Korea leaders' meeting.

Li said his visit and the meeting have helped put China-Japan relations back on the track of normal development, Xinhua reported.

"However, issues that sour China-Japan relations are not fundamentally addressed. Though Japan has vowed to make positive efforts to promote relations with China, it is also involved in projects that are aimed at containing the country, such as the US-led 'Indo-Pacific strategy,'" Da warned, adding that China should be fully prepared for such risks.

Regional responsibility

Enhanced cooperation between the world's second and third largest economies not only benefits the region but long-term global development as well, Lü Yaodong, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Japanese Studies, told the Global Times.

As two victims of US-led anti-globalization and protectionism, China and Japan share the responsibility of creating and renovating regional cooperation, and the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative serves as a great chance, Da said.

Former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama said at an event on Saturday in Beijing that China and Japan have a wide scope of cooperation and Japan should get more involved in the China-proposed initiative, Xinhua reported. 

On August 2, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono agreed to launch a public-private committee to advance joint infrastructure development in other countries, Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Specifically, the two sides are looking to Japanese companies to participate in Belt and Road projects, with details to be ironed out at working-level talks in Beijing as early as September, the report said.

As the initiative mostly covers regions to the west of China, Japan's involvement could help better engage the participation of East Asian countries, Da said. Joint investment in a third country, as well as projects in trade cooperation and currency settlements, could be further promoted under the initiative, he added.

With Japan's leadership, entrepreneurs, think tanks and the public have shown increasing interest in the China-proposed initiative, and China and Japan should seize on the positive momentum and promote practical cooperation under the initiative, experts said.

Japan should act more, instead of mere will or words, on engagement in the initiative, Lü said. He stressed that political trust is the foundation of the two countries' all-round cooperation and that Japan should always avoid words and deeds that go against the four political documents signed between the two countries.

Newspaper headline: China, Japan improve ties

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