- Title: CHINA / JAPAN: China, Japan leaders to meet amid North Korea fears
- Date: 24th December 2011
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE OCTOBER 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF NATIONALISTS MARCHING AND WAVING JAPANESE FLAGS IN ANTI-CHINESE PROTESTS
- Embargoed: 11th January 2012 10:01
- Location: Japan, China
- Country: Japan China
- Topics: International Relations,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACB0C2FPX0EMOCI3MHHRM1RRMC
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing during a two-day trip from Sunday (December 25).
Hu and Noda last met in November during the G20 summit in Hawaii, but it has been more than two years since the two countries' top officials met in Beijing in 2009, when then-Prime Minister Taro Aso visited the Chinese capital.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao flew to Japan in May to express support for reconstruction efforts after the deadly tsunami and earthquake in Japan claimed about 20,000 lives.
Wen's visit was a significant step towards rebuilding ties that deeply deteriorated last year when Japan detained a Chinese skipper whose trawler collided with Japanese patrol boats near a chain of disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Repairing relations with China is also high on Japan's priority list, said Huang Dahui, a professor of international relations who also heads Renmin University's East-Asian Studies Research Centre.
"I think Noda's visit to China means that he wants to further repair relations with China through his visit. I think he wants to find a balance between diplomacy with the U.S. and with China. This is a very important goal for his visit," said Huang.
Japan's wish to diversify lies not only in the political realm, Huang said.
The country's finance minister Jun Azumi said earlier this week that Noda would discuss the issue of buying Chinese bonds, which could amount to $10 billion US dollars, reported Chinese state media.
The move would diversify its foreign exchange reserves and help boost the Chinese currency's standing, Japanese business daily the Nikkei said.
Another item high on the agenda is North Korea.
Hu and Noda will likely agree to work together to help maintain stability on the Korean peninsula following the death of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il when they meet next week, but critics say that anything more than platitudes will be hard to come by.
Japan, which is well within range of the reclusive state's long-range missiles, is seeking to establish working relations with North Korea through China, and restart the stalled six-party talks.
"When Japan talks about this issue with China, they would ask the Chinese side to help restart the six-party talks. Also, through six-party talks, they would want to urge the DPRK and the DPRK's new leadership to give up nuclear development," Huang said.
The six-party denuclearisation talks, involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, broke down in 2008 and United Nations inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009.
Noda's visit to China, North Korea's biggest backer, was arranged before Kim Jong-il's death on Saturday (December 17) was announced by the unpredictable hermit state on Monday (December 19).
Sino-Japanese ties have been shadowed for years by what Beijing says has been Tokyo's refusal to admit to atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in the country between 1931 and 1945.
Memories of the World War II remain fresh wounds for many Chinese and negative sentiments are still strong, as one Beijing resident pointed out.
"When you look at the bigger picture, we can further develop friendly relations with Japan, and we should. But for the common people, if you want Chinese people to genuinely get rid of our common animosity toward Japan from the bottom of our hearts, then I think Japan still has a lot of work to do," he said.
Another resident said he does not expect conflicts between the two countries to stop in the near future.
"We make use of each other and benefit from each other. As long as you don't harm the most fundamental interests, there won't be a huge fight, but we still have conflicts non-stop."
China says invading Japanese troops slaughtered 300,000 men, women and children in Nanjing, then known as Nanking. An Allied tribunal after World War Two put the death toll at about 142,000.
Noda on Thursday (December 22) said that he will also request for two pandas during his visit, China's official English-language newspaper China Daily said.
Japan is hopeful that Beijing would extend its so-called panda diplomacy to Tokyo, which would be symbolic in marking the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year.
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