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Japanese Foreign Minister Hails Japan-China Talks


Nobutaka Machimura
Japan's foreign minister went on national television Sunday to praise Saturday's summit between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao. While the meeting may have led to a slight thaw in the deteriorating Sino-Japanese relationship, nothing substantial appears to have changed.

Japanese Foreign Minister insisted on Sunday that the meeting had achieved positive results, but gave no indication that either Tokyo or Beijing had made any fundamental policy changes to appease the other.

Sino-Japanese relations have sunk to a 30-year low in the wake of recent anti-Japanese demonstrations across China sparked by Japanese school textbooks said to whitewash the country's wartime actions.

Demonstrators have also called for China to block Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Mr. Machimura warned Sunday against further anti-Japanese demonstrations, saying that such protests would not be in China's best interest.

The foreign minister, appearing on public broadcaster NHK, gave no indication whether Mr. Koizumi would accede to Mr. Hu's strong request to forego further visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to Japan's war dead.

Mr. Machimura says the prime minister has said many times that he will take all factors into account and make an appropriate decision and that is what he expects him to do.

China and other Asian nations consider the visits insensitive in light of Japan's brutal colonial legacy in the region. During their meeting Saturday on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta, Chinese President Hu said Japan needed to reflect more deeply on its militarist past.

Mr. Koizumi attempted to improve the bilateral relationship in a speech Friday expressing remorse and offering an apology for what he called the "tremendous damage and suffering" inflicted on Asia in the early 20th century.

Chinese officials say that while they welcome the Japanese leader's attitude, words and discussion alone will not resolve the matter, adding that concrete steps are needed to truly demonstrate Japan's remorse.

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