On March 24, the 4th meeting of the “Exchange and Discussion Mechanism”, which is a regular forum for exchange and discussion between the DPJ and the Communist Party of China (CPC), was held at a venue in Peking. DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi, and Wang Jiarui, Minister of the International Department of the CPC, who serve as Chairs of the Mechanism for their respective parties, made keynote speeches on the theme of “Recollections and Observations on the 40th Anniversary of the Normalization of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and China”.
First, Wang welcomed the DPJ delegation. After looking back on the high points of the relationship on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral relations, he said that the following five points were necessary in order to further promote a mutually beneficial strategic relationship between China and Japan under the new state of affairs existing in the world: (1) maintaining friendly exchanges, (2) increasing the level of cooperation, (3) creating close private sector exchanges, (4) dealing with differences in an appropriate manner, and (5) strengthening international cooperation. He also referred to the importance of party-to-party exchanges, expressing the opinion that both sides needed to strengthen strategic exchanges, expand leadership exchanges, engage in working level cooperation, and work to promote private sector exchanges.
At the start of his speech, Koshiishi said that this year should be celebrated as the 40th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral relations between Japan and China, and went on to express his gratitude to the Chinese side for their efforts in hosting the “4th Exchange and Discussion Mechanism” in Beijing. He went on to say that the Mechanism had been established following an agreement between the two parties in July 2006 to engage in ongoing and candid discussion and exchanges. He then gave a speech focusing on (1) the development of Japan-China relations over the past 40 years, and (2) the future prospects for the relationship.
First of all, Koshiishi looked back 40 years to 1972, emphasizing the significance of the decision made by the leaders involved in negotiations at the time to normalize relations considering long-term and broader perspectives, despite the many difficulties and problems which this involved. He stressed, “The relationship between Japan and China is a mutually-dependently one of unprecedented closeness and depth, and friendly relations between Japan and China make a significant contribution to world peace.”
Koshiishi also expressed the opinion that the two nations had shown respect for each others’ positions and domestic circumstances, and had made a significant commitment at a number of levels, and that the fruits of this had been the negotiations toward the normalization of diplomatic relations and the Joint Communiqué between Japan and China. As one example of this, he cited the sense of responsibility and feeling of regret for the serious damage caused to the Chinese people during the past war expressed by the Japanese side in the Joint Communiqué. He quoted the Chinese expression, “When drinking the water of a well, one should never forgot who dug it” and said, “As we reach the 40th anniversary [of these events] I would like to remember the great efforts of those from both nations who strove their utmost in the face of historic trials, and to take this opportunity to pay my respects once again to the achievements of my seniors, in particular President Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai, Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and Minister of Foreign Affairs Masayoshi Ohira.”
Koshiishi emphasised that while the relationship between Japan and China had grown in leaps and bounds over the past 40 years, and enormous changes had taken place, the “bonds of the spirit” that joined the peoples of both nations remained unchanged. He stressed, “The 2008 Sichuan Earthquake and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake enabled us to once more confirm those bonds.” Koshiishi went on to express his gratitude for the condolences and support Japan had received from all over China, from the top leadership on down, in the wake of last year’s earthquake and tsunami.
With regard to the prospects for the bilateral relationship, Koshiishi said that currently the most significant issue facing the relationship as a whole is the national sentiment of the people of each nation toward the other. If such national sentiment remains in its current fragile state, he said that it would be difficult to achieve stable development of the bilateral relationship, and stressed, “The leaders of both nations should rack their brains and make every effort to support exchanges between the peoples of both nations, including cultural exchanges, emphasizing the importance of grassroots friendship and the ties between people that have been demonstrated in times of disaster. If they do so, I believe that the national sentiment of both countries will definitely move in a more positive direction.”
In his conclusion, Koshiishi said that while the two countries faced some difficulties, in order to achieve a bright future for the bilateral relationship it was important to remember the endeavours of past leaders, to consider what needed to be done to further enhance the Japan-China relationship, and to implement the actions necessary to achieve this. He stressed his expectation that the meeting that day would lead to exchanges taking place from such a broad perspective.
Following the keynote speeches, Policy Research Committee Acting Chair Yoshito Sengoku, Administration Committee Chair Hideo Hiraoka and Vice President Kenji Yamaoka made speeches on various themes and Acting Secretary General Shinji Tarutoko made a speech summing up the discussions that took place on the various topics.