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Li urges Japanese to help mend ties

By Hu Yongqi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-12 07:13

Premier Li Keqiang urged Japan to view China's development as an opportunity and pursue positive policies toward China to improve bilateral relations.

The premier made the statement while meeting with a Japanese economic delegation headed by Yohei Kono, president of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, at the Great Hall of the People on Monday.

Li said this year marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic ties. History and reality show that China-Japan relations can maintain healthy and stable development only if both sides adhere to the principles set in the four political documents signed by the two countries between 1972 and 2008 and stick to the direction of peace, friendship and cooperation, said Li.

More than 40 years ago, nongovernmental organizations and friendly people from Japan, including the association, made efforts to normalize bilateral ties, Li said. He called on Kono and the other delegates to continue similarly to contribute to further improvement in relations, promote mutually beneficial cooperation and enhance understanding between the two peoples.

There has been a slowdown in economic and political ties between the two neighbors. China-Japan trade dropped by 10.8 percent year-on-year to $278.6 billion in 2015.

Trade further decreased to $223 billion from January to October last year, a 2.8 percent drop compared with the same period in 2015, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Li and Kono had met on several occasions, most recently in April 2015.

Kono also served in several governmental roles, including Japan's speaker of the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2009.

In 1993, Kono, then chief Cabinet secretary, issued a statement acknowledging that Japanese soldiers had coerced comfort women to work in military-run brothels during World War II. Until that year, Tokyo had denied the nation's military was involved.

Kono said the association has been committed to boosting China-Japan relations by expanding economic cooperation over the past 60 years. Japan's economic powers have closely watched China's development and are willing to work hard to boost exchanges and improve relations, he added.

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