World News

Japan Urges China to Sway Global Issues

Posted December 28, 2007 6:23 a.m. EST
Updated January 1, 2008 2:58 p.m. EST

— Japan urged China to use its growing influence to make an impact on key global issues such as climate change during summit talks Friday that reflected the countries' warmer ties.

The countries have a history of animosity stemming from disputes over territory, resources and wartime history, but Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's four-day visit follows several friendly meetings between leaders and a Chinese warship's historic port call to Japan.

"In the long history of our relations, there has never been a time when Japan and China has had more influence or responsibilities in Asia and the world," Fukuda said at a joint news conference with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. "We face a big opportunity going forward."

"There have indeed been various problems in the relationship between Japan and China. But it is time for us to overcome these problems and push forward the development of our relationship," he said.

Wen also praised improved relations between the two countries.

"Prime Minister Fukuda said the spring has come in our relations and after 2 1/2 hours of talks, I truly feel that the spring of China-Japan relations has indeed arrived," Wen said.

Fukuda was to meet later Friday with President Hu Jintao, and Wen confirmed that Hu will visit Japan next year. It will be the first such trip by a Chinese head of state since Jiang Zemin's in 1998.

Fukuda said Japan would send a warship to China in 2008 as part of efforts to build mutual confidence. The visit follows a Chinese warship's historic port call to Japan this year.

The two sides signed an agreement to promote scientific and technological cooperation to fight climate change. The agreement calls for Japan to invite 50 young Chinese researchers every year for the next four years to be trained to combat global warming.

They also issued a memorandum aimed at increasing exchanges between the youth of China and Japan. Next year Japan will invite 3,000 Chinese high school students to visit while sending 1,000 to China, Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mitsuo Sakaba said.

Fukuda had placed climate change at the top of his agenda for the meeting. Japan is eager to help China tackle pollution that is increasingly felt across the sea in Japan.

"Both sides have consistently believed that, on climate change, pushing forward cooperation is our duty and responsibility in the international community," Fukuda said.

Industries in China are notorious for their inefficiency, requiring more coal or other energy sources to produce the same amount of output as a plant in Japan.

Other topics included a long-running dispute over China and Japan's competing claims to gas reserves in the East China Sea, which both nations hope to exploit to feed their fuel-hungry economies.

"We will continue negotiations and aim for a resolution as quickly as possible," Fukuda said after meeting with Wen.

The two also discussed North Korea, a close ally of Beijing that has been accused of abducting Japanese citizens during the 1970s and '80s.

Fukuda will visit the industrial port of Tianjin on Saturday and will make a stop in Qufu, the birthplace of the ancient philosopher Confucius, before returning home Sunday.