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Japan Hopeful China will Engage in Talks About Rift

China's ambassador to Japan Wang Yi, left, chats with Japan's former foreign minister in Tokyo
Japan says it hopes Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao will meet on the sidelines of a summit in Jakarta this week to mend the growing rift between the two countries.

Japan says it wants a meeting with China to help mend the dispute between the two countries but says it is up to Beijing to make the final decision.

The dispute was sparked by Japan's approval of textbooks critics say downplay Tokyo's atrocities during the war.

The Japanese foreign ministry spokesman, Hatsuhisa Takashima, spoke about the dispute on the sidelines of a meeting of Asian and African foreign ministers in Jakarta.

"The government of Japan is very much hopeful that this meeting will take place," he said. "But the ball is on the Chinese side of the court and we are still waiting for the words from the Chinese government."

Foreign ministers, gathered in the Indonesian capital for the Asian-African Summit, also called for the two countries to meet to mend their differences, but so far, China has not responded.

On Wednesday, the Chinese foreign minister appealed for calm following three weeks of violent anti-Japanese protests in several Chinese cities that damaged major diplomatic missions and Japanese restaurants.

Those protests have also turned into demonstrations against Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Japan has called on China to apologize for the violent protests and pay for damages, but Beijing refuses and says Tokyo should be the one to apologize.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will attend the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta, called on the two nations to meet during the summit to discuss their differences.

Japan's foreign ministry spokesman, Hatsuhisa Takashima, says if the meeting takes place Japan has a number of issues to discuss with China.

"If this meeting materializes, meeting between Prime Minister Koizumi and President Hu Jintao, Japan intends to have a wide range of talks with the forward-looking spirit for the promotion of better relations between our two countries both economically and politically," added Mr. Takashima.

More than 40 heads of state are attending a summit this week in Jakarta for the 50th anniversary of the Asian-African Summit held in 1955 by nations from both continents in an effort to assert themselves on the world stage.