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No Breakthrough Reported From Sino-Japanese Talks


The vice foreign ministers of Japan and China meet again in Tokyo Monday for a second day of talks, as they look to thaw chilled relations.

The talks are the first high-level meetings between Japanese and Chinese officials in four months.

Diplomats have revealed little of what has been discussed. Japanese media say the main topic has been a possible summit between Shinzo Abe, poised to become the Japanese prime minister this week, and China's president, Hu Jintao.

Relations between Tokyo and Beijing are at their lowest point in years. Chinese leaders have refused to meet with outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi because of his repeated visits to a Shinto shrine, where Japan's combat casualties are honored, including convicted war criminals.

China and some of Japan's other Asian neighbors have accused Tokyo of a lack of remorse for its brutal military occupation before and during World War II.

China has said it is willing to hold a summit with Japan, if what it calls the "political obstacle" is removed, a reference to the controversial visits to Yasukuni Shrine.

Abe has refused to say whether, as prime minister, he will also visit the shrine.

Abe's words and actions will be watched closely in Beijing and elsewhere after the Parliament selects the new prime minister on Tuesday. The 52-year-old politician is known for his conservative views, including a more assertive foreign policy for Japan and boosting Japan's self-defense forces.

Speaking to reporters after Saturday's first session, the senior Japanese official, Vice Foreign Minister , would only say that a wide range of issues, both Sino-Japanese and international, are being discussed.

Yachi says the talks have been going favorably, but he is not going to discuss details.

Other issues believed covered in what Japanese officials call the strategic dialogue, are territorial disputes, including one involving gas exploration rights in the East China Sea.

Another likely issue on the agenda is how to get North Korea to return to negotiations about its nuclear programs. Japan is among the participants in the stalled six-nation talks, hosted by China, concerning Pyongyang's atomic weapons program.

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