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Premier Li Keqiang urges Japan to face up to history

Updated: Apr 14,2015 5:22 PM

Premier Li Keqiang meets a delegation of Japan’s Association for the Promotion of International Trade headed by Yohei Kono, former Japanese chief cabinet secretary, in Beijing on April 14, 2015.[Photo/China Daily]

Premier Li Keqiang highlighted Japan’s previous war apologies and urged the country to face up to history on April 14.

Premier Li made the remarks in Beijing while receiving a trade delegation led by Yohei Kono, Japan’s former chief cabinet secretary, who issued a landmark 1993 apology over the forcing of women to work in military brothels during World War II.

The Sino-Japanese relationship faces both challenges and opportunities this year, and the key lies in how the Japanese side deals with historical issues, said the Premier.

The meeting came months ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, with Asian countries, including China, closely scrutinizing Tokyo’s comments about the war as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to make a statement on the anniversary.

The premier hailed Kono’s apology in 1993, saying it showed the politician’s bravery in shouldering the question of history.

The statement, and the 1995 apology by then-Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama for wartime damage and suffering caused by his country, showed the approach the Japanese government should take toward history, Li said.

“It goes without saying that over the past two years Sino-Japanese ties have faced difficulties, and both sides wish to improve things,” Li said.

Sino-Japanese relations, plagued by feuds over history and territory, have shown signs of a thaw since a leaders’ summit in November, but the past still rankles, and the full range of exchanges has yet to be restored.

Kono, who visited Beijing as head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, said history should not be forgotten, and an improvement of ties is expected.

Various sectors in Japan are following China’s economic development and the emergence of the China-championed Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, he added.

[Photo/China Daily]