Governor of Tokyo hopes to 'mend ties' with Beijing visit

By Joe McGee, April 25, 2014

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The governor of Tokyo told reporters in Beijing Thursday that he hoped his trip to the capital would mend ties between China and Japan, which have been strained recently by several controversial incidents, SCMP reports.

"Relations between Japan and China are tense and there's great significance in the people of Beijing asking me to come here," Governor Yoichi Masuzoe said after arriving for a three-day visit.

Masuzoe acknowledged that a reconciliation would not be immediate, but rather a step-by-step process. He suggested the two nations could "meet about environmental problems [and] co-ordinate exchanges between students studying abroad."

"By adding these things together, we can improve relations between both countries," he said.

Relations between China and Japan have been strained by a territorial dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Military activity in the region in recent months led to retired People's Liberation Army senior officer Luo Yuan recently warning that a war between the two countries was becoming increasingly likely. 

Ties have also been marred by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the highly controversial Yasukuni shrine in December 2013, an incident which highly angered Chinese officials. The shrine is a point of contention due to it honoring Japanese war criminals alongside millions of other wartime dead. 

Salt was poured in that wound this week when Justin Bieber unwittingly made a trip to the shrine, although unlike Abe he later apologised for his poor judgment. 

China also seized a Japanese cargo ship on Tuesday, seeking repayment for a 78 year old WWII debt involving two Chinese ships that sunk under the command of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Tokyo condemned the action, saying it broke a pact made in 1972 declaring an end to Chinese war reparation claims against Japan.

Meanwhile, China's Ministry of Defence spokesman Yang Yujun denied to comment on whether the PLA was ready for conflict with Japan over the Diaoyus, only saying that Beijing was stuck to a "tit-for-tat" rule regarding its defence, hinting it would fight back if provoked.

[Image via CNS]

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