China `Welcomes' Apology Made by Japanese PM Koizumi on War
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China `Welcomes' Apology Made by Japanese PM Koizumi on War

Bloomberg | April 22, 2005

China welcomed comments made in Jakarta today by Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the pain his country inflicted on neighboring nations before and during World War II, a Chinese spokesman said.

``For Koizumi to have made the comments that he made in such a forum, to express such an apology, we welcome that,'' said Kong Quan, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ``Any recognition of a historical fact is welcome.''

The apology came in the third week of strained ties between Asia's two largest powers. Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao are both attending a meeting of more than 100 leaders from Asia and Africa, hosted by Indonesia in Jakarta. The meeting started today and ends on Sunday.

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``Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations,'' Koizumi said at the leaders' meeting, according to a government translation of his remarks. ``With feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind,'' Japan would never turn itself ``into a military power,'' he said.

Koizumi says he plans to meet China's Hu tomorrow to help reverse deteriorating relations between Asia's two biggest economies. Kong declined to confirm if the planned meeting would take place.

``Right now the foreign ministries of China and Japan are having urgent discussions'' to facilitate talks between Hu and Koizumi, Kong said.

He downplayed the severity of the dispute, which ranges from Chinese anger over Japan's quest for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council to a maritime dispute over drilling rights for natural gas in the East China Sea, and the wording of Japanese school texts on its role in China during its occupation between 1931 and 1945.

``We have some difficulties but I think we can solve this with dialogue,'' Kong said. ``China respects its relationship with Japan and I believe Japan also respects its relationship with China. We hope to broaden our ties.''

`Hope'

China exceeded the U.S. last year as Japan's main trading partner, with exports and imports totaling $206 billion, a fifth of Japan's total.

The Chinese economy expanded 9.5 percent, more than expected, in the three months ended March 30 to $1.6 trillion. Japan's economy is almost three times larger at $4.6 trillion by the end of 2004.

Japan, which relies on overseas supplies for 99.7 percent of its oil, claims drilling rights to tracts of the East China Sea, deepening a territorial dispute.

Earlier, a Thai spokesman said the issue was raised when Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met Hu in private talks on the sidelines of the regional meeting.

``We asked about the remarks made by Prime Minister Koizumi and the President of China noted that it was the first time such an apology has been made at an international forum,'' Thai spokesman Sihasak Phuangketkeow said in an interview. The spokesman sat in on the talks and spoke on Thaksin's behalf.

Thaksin expressed ``hope relations between Japan and China will be continued on an upward track,'' the spokesman said.

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