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Sino-Japanese Relations Remain Problematic Despite Recent Summit

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's April 11-13 visit to Japan helped advance the modest détente that has marked Sino-Japanese relations since Shinzo Abe became Japanese Prime Minister in September 2006. Abe has made improving ties between China and Japan -- which had deteriorated sharply -- a priority. Despite some achievements, however, the summit failed to resolve the underlying economic and especially security tensions between the two countries.

Wen's sojourn represented the first visit by a senior Chinese leader to Japan in seven years. He described his trip as an effort to "melt the ice" that had characterized Sino-Japanese relations in recent years under Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. Until Abe's October 2006 visit to Beijing, the Chinese government had frozen high-level summits with Japanese leaders outside the context of multilateral gatherings in order to protest Koizumi's annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. In his speech to the Japanese parliament, Wen intimated that Abe should continue to refrain from visiting the shrine, which the Chinese view as a symbol of Japanese militarism, to avoid giving the impression that Japanese apologies for wartime atrocities were insincere. ...

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