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Relations warming between Japan and China -

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Relations warming between Japan and China

The World Today - Thursday, 8 May , 2008 12:25:00

Reporter: Shane McLeod

ELEANOR HALL: Their countries have a history of often violent tension but the leaders of China and
Japan have just held a groundbreaking summit where they have pledged to take a more forward-looking
approach to the bilateral relationship.

The Chinese-Japanese relationship has been characterised for decades now by rows over wartime
history and disputes about offshore resources.

But now both leaders are talking about change, saying they may even make their meetings an annual
event.

As North Asia Correspondent Shane McLeod reports.

SHANE MCLEOD: It's only the second time a Chinese president has received a state welcome in Japan.
And both sides are keen to make it a success.

Japan's Emperor Akihito last night hosted a dinner for Hu Jintao after a day of high-level meetings
between the visiting president and political leaders.

(Emperor Akihito speaking)

SHANE MCLEOD: "I hope that the people of both nations," Emperor Akihito says, "will consider once
again the joint history of our two countries and promote friendship for the future."

President Hu and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda signed a pact on climate change, and released a joint
statement that outlined their goals for the future of the diplomatic relationship.

And unlike the only other presidential visit a decade ago, where China pushed unsuccessfully for a
written apology on wartime wrongdoing by Japan, this time history and other controversial issues
were broadly, but only briefly, broached, and the emphasis put on the future, not the past.

(Hu Jintao speaking)

SHANE MCLEOD: "Prime Minister Fukuda and myself are at a new starting point in history," President
Hu says. "We are seeking a new opportunity for further development in the future."

Both country's leaders have also expressed hope that some of the issues that have threatened to
flare up again are dealt with promptly.

One is oil and gas development on their shared border in the East China Sea.

There had been hopes the issue could be resolved on President Hu's visit to Tokyo.

While that hasn't been achieved, both leaders said they believed a solution was within sight.

(Yasuo Fukuda speaking)

SHANE MCLEOD: "We two leaders have the responsibility," Mr Fukuda says, "to share and trust in the
future of the bilateral relationship and do our utmost to solve all problems."

That's not to say everyone is smiling.

This morning President Hu is holding a breakfast meeting with former Japanese prime ministers.

The most prominent member of that club would be the man China blames for the Ice Age in diplomatic
relations of recent years.

But Junichiro Koizumi has declined all invitations to be part of the schedule, and won't be joining
the President for a meal this morning.

One report says Mr Koizumi has made the decision out of respect for the efforts to improve
relations.

But Mr Koizumi has reportedly told colleagues that if he was to attend, President Hu might not turn
up: a caustic reference to the years where China refused high-level meetings because of Mr
Koizumi's repeated visits to the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo.

This is Shane McLeod reporting for The World Today.