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Koizumi Fires Parting Shot at Beijing, Seoul, as Sino-Japanese Talks go Into Extra Day

An unscheduled third day of talks will be held between high-ranking Japanese and Chinese diplomats meeting in Tokyo. The discussions overlap a change in Japanese government leadership, a transition expected to help improve the damaged relationship between the Asian neighbors.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official tells VOA, an unscheduled third day of Sino-Japanese talks, led by vice foreign ministers, will be held in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The talks began Saturday, and then recessed for a day. They resumed Monday, when Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso briefly met with China's second-ranking diplomat.

The meeting comes during the transition of power from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to his successor, Shinzo Abe. During his final scheduled session with reporters as prime minister, Mr. Koizumi was asked Monday if he was to blame for a deterioration of relations with China and South Korea during his five-year tenure.

Mr. Koizumi rebuffs the notion that his visits to a controversial war shrine were the main cause of the worsened ties with Japan's neighbors. He says China and South Korea will know they were wrong, when they are able to reflect calmly on the issue after the passage of time.

Mr. Koizumi's annual pilgrimages to the Yasukuni Shrine, where convicted war criminals are honored, along with many others of Japan's war dead, have prompted repeated diplomatic protests from Beijing and Seoul.

The dialogue in Tokyo is an attempt to put the relationship with China back on track now that Mr. Koizumi is leaving office. It is also a sign that both nations expect relations to improve under the administration of Abe, who is due to be named prime minister by parliament on Tuesday.

Hidenao Nakagawa, who was appointed by Abe Monday as secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is vowing to use his personal ties with China to improve relations. Nakagawa met Sunday here with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo to discuss a resumption of Sino-Japanese summits after Abe takes over.

Japan's Foreign Ministry is not releasing details of the Sino-Japanese talks, the first held in four months.