On March 23, DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The two reaffirmed the importance of party-to-party exchanges, as well as agreeing to promote exchanges on a variety of levels, and to promote a future-oriented relationship of mutual trust, while looking back at past history, with a view to further deepening the mutually beneficial strategic relationship between the two countries.
At the start of the meeting, Xi warmly welcomed the visit of Koshiishi and the other members of the DPJ delegation to participate in the 4th meeting of the Japan-China Exchange and Discussion Mechanism in this the 40th anniversary year of the normalization of bilateral relations. He commented, “The Communist Party of China highly values this visit by your delegation, and we would like to engage in profound exchanges, and via party-to-party exchanges engage in meaningful discussions that will enable us to further promote a mutually beneficial strategic relationship.”
Koshiishi stated, “It is an honour to meet you. I am delighted to be able to visit China in my capacity as the Secretary General of the DPJ in this, the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China.” He went on: “I hope that the coming two days [of our visit] can provide a bright ray of sunlight to our two nations.” Furthermore, he expressed his gratitude for the assistance received from the Chinese government and the Chinese people on the occasion of the Great East Japan Earthquake, referring to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Japan following the disaster, in which Wen sampled vegetables from the disaster-affected regions.
During the meeting, Xi raised the following points: (1) promoting of a relationship of mutual trust politically between Japan and China, (2) strengthening the mutually beneficial relationship between the two nations, (3) promoting private sector exchanges, and strengthening cooperative relations on a regional and global scale. He pointed out the need for exchanges on a variety of levels, and for strengthening the future-orientated relationship. He commented that exchanges were necessary in order for each side to understand the other, and that it was necessary for Japan and China to discover areas of common interest through such exchanges, as well as to control and find appropriate resolutions where divisions of opinion and outstanding issues exist.
In response, Koshiishi said it was important to “meet face-to-face, achieve mutual understanding and combine resources.” He said that today’s discussion was the face-to-face meeting, and that although problems might occur as exchanges deepen, it was necessary to work to resolve them with a positive attitude. He cited as examples of existing problems, (1) the speedy resumption of negotiations concerning the conclusion of an international agreement regarding the development of resources in the East China Sea, and (2) the elimination of damages caused by unfounded rumours in the wake of the nuclear accident, such as by the easing of restrictions on the import of Japanese food produce and agricultural produce and of restrictions warning Chinese citizens that travel to Fukushima is at their own risk, and called for Xi’s cooperation in dealing with these issues.
Koshiishi also referred to the issue of historical perceptions from the perspective of the need for mutual understanding between the people of both nations. Mentioning the statement made by Japanese Prime Minister Murayama in 1995, he stated, “In order that we do not repeat the tragedies of the past, each year on August 15, the DPJ issues a statement in the name of the party President or Secretary General, communicating our peace-orientated stance to Asia and the world.” He added, “It is necessary for us to recall the past history between Japan and China, and to engage in multi-faceted exchanges not just at government level, but in various fields, starting with party-to-party exchanges, to hand such exchanges on to the next and future generations.
Xi said that acting on common perceptions was important with regard to the issue of the East China Sea, and commented that it was necessary to hold discussions at a working level in order to set conditions for a speedy resumption [of negotiations]. With regard to restrictions on Japanese food products, he said that he himself, like Premier Wen was “fond of Japanese food,” and promised to promote discussions on this issue once the safety of such produce had been confirmed in Japan itself. With regard to historical issues, Xi commented, “Both of us share as a political base the perception that we should learn from history while turning our eyes to the future.”