- Title: CHINA: China sees steady Japan ties post-Fukuda
- Date: 2nd September 2008
- Summary: PEOPLE WALKING ON STREET MAN WALKING OUT FROM NEWSPAPER STAND
- Embargoed: 17th September 2008 13:00
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Reuters ID: LVA9OW3QBCE80JX1EG6DZ9HMFM1A
- Story Text: China acknowledges Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's contribution to better relations between the two countries.
China on Tuesday (September 2) is optimistic that warming ties between the two countries will continue despite the departure of Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, gave tribute to the improved relations achieved between Japan and China while Fukuda held the post of Prime Minister.
"The resignation of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is Japan's internal affair. Relationships between China and Japan have kept good momentum of development. The strategic partnership of the two countries is deepening.
Prime Minister Fukuda has made important contributions, which we highly praised. To maintain long-term, sound and stable development of bilateral relationships is beneficiary to the fundamental interests of the two countries and our people. We will continue to make efforts together with Japan,"
Jiang said, speaking at a regular foreign ministry new briefing in Beijing.
Experts close to Beijing policy-makers said Fukuda was unusually committed to working on better ties between China and Japan. Under Fukuda's tenure, China became Japan's top trading partner, with two-way trade totalling $236.6 billion U.S. dollars.
Fukuda met Chinese President Hu Jintao in Tokyo in May in high-profile talks to cement warming ties. The two sides in June announced an initial agreement on ending friction over gas beds under the East China Sea.
Expressing the general mood in China, Beijing local Zhang Qiang said he believed relations depended on which politician would fill Fukuda's place.
"I hope a new prime minister can face the truth of history. It is impossible that he would fully agree with China's opinions on what Japan has done in the past. But if he has a right attitude towards history, then it will be a good thing," said Zhang.
The favourite in Japan to succeed Fukuda is Taro Aso, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party official and former foreign minister who has been wary of China and wants Japan to wield more regional clout.
Many Chinese people doubt that his successor's relations with China would likely trigger the bitter quarrels over wartime history, territory and influence that took place in recent years.
"We feel a bit uncomfortable if we look back at history. But with the development of the modern world, friendship [between the two countries] is very important," said Zhang Wenying, an office worker in China's business district.
China-Japan relations cooled under Yasuo Fukuda's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi.
Koizumi had visited Yasukuni Shrine, a memorial to Japan's war dead seen by many in Asia as a symbol of the country's past military aggression.
Japan invaded and occupied parts of China from 1931-45.
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