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Japan must acknowledge history to build better ties with China, experts say

By Yang Zekun | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-11-29 15:20

Chinese and Japanese experts at a symposium called on Japan to face up to history and strengthen nongovernmental exchanges to promote the healthy and stable development of Sino-Japanese relations.

The event was held by the China Foundation for Human Rights Development in collaboration with the Japan-China Friendship Association in both Beijing and Tokyo on Sunday. More than 80 experts from the two countries conducted in-depth exchanges on bilateral relations via online and offline.

Wang Guoqing, vice-chairman of the CFHRD, said that deep reflection on the history of Japanese militaristic aggression is important for the development of Sino-Japanese relations.

The history of the nations' exchanges proves that the long-term, healthy and steady development of bilateral relations is in line with the trend of the era and serves the fundamental interests of their peoples, he said.

On the basis of equality and mutual respect, China and Japan have strengthened communication and exchanges in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and seeking common ground while shelving differences, which is conducive to enhancing mutual understanding and trust, according to Wang.

"The nongovernmental organization is an important force for friendly exchanges and practical cooperation between the two countries," he said. "We should use the unique advantages of NGOs, properly handle differences through constructive dialogue and cooperation, enhance mutual trust and expand consensus, and continue to improve the foundation of the two countries' good friendship."

Lyu Xiaoqing, vice-president of the China Society of Sino-Japanese Relations History, said that over the years, many peaceful and anti-war groups and conscientious individuals in Japan have made unremitting and selfless efforts to properly resolve the complex, sensitive issues left over from the postwar period, and they have made some progress.

Hu Peng, a researcher at the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that despite the ups and downs in Sino-Japanese relations, the exchanges and cooperation between people from the two countries have not been interrupted in the 50 years since the normalization of their diplomatic ties — particularly when it comes to dealing with their aging populations.

Bilateral efforts in the field of public health have also been expanding and deepening. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the two countries provided each other with a large number of epidemic prevention supplies such as masks, goggles and protective suits, Hu said.

The two sides should improve exchanges between friendship groups and create conditions and opportunities to attract and train more young people so that they can grow into a new force for nongovernmental cooperation, Hu said.

In addition to existing areas of cooperation, the two sides should also work together in other areas, including disaster prevention, urban governance, community governance and rural vitalization, Hu said.

Japanese experts and scholars said it is imperative to face historical facts without bias. Japan must acknowledge and reflect on its past aggression against China and faithfully convey such facts to its younger generations, they said.

The CFHRD also talked about the operations of the Fund for History, Human Rights and Peace, which was set up by Japan's Mitsubishi Materials Corporation to compensate 3,765 Chinese laborers who were forced to work for the company's predecessor and its contractors during World War II, including 722 who died on the job.

in September 2019, the CFHRD took over management of the fund, which plans to pay to 100,000 yuan ($14,000) to each of the victims or their families.

The fund has so far paid 129 million yuan to 1,290 families of the victims.

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