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October 10, 2010

Japan PM hopes for improved ties with China


October 10, 2010


TOKYO: Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Saturday he believed Japan’s ties with China were recovering after Beijing released the last of four Japanese workers it had held for filming a military site.
China and Japan, Asia’s two largest economies, have acted to ease tension following the stand-off over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.
On Saturday, four Japanese lawmakers inspected the islands from the air, Japanese media reported. The spats have underscored the fragility of a relationship long troubled by bitter Chinese attitudes towards Japan’s wartime occupation as well as by present-day mistrust as China edges past Japan as the world’s second biggest economy.
China cancelled diplomatic meetings and student visits in protest against the trawler captain’s detention, and industry sources cited concerns that Beijing appeared to hold back shipments of rare earth minerals vital for electronics and auto parts.
Takahashi’s release came five days after Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met in Brussels amid efforts to ease tensions following Japan’s arrest of a Chinese captain for ramming his trawler into Japanese coastguard boats in disputed waters in the East China Sea.
Kan said he had agreed with Wen to “resume high-level political exchanges” suspended following the sea incident. The captain was released on September 25.
“This is already on the move,” he added. The other three Japanese were released on September 30 after admitting to violating Chinese law. China has denied their arrests were related to the sea incident.
But Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said he would ask Beijing why Takahashi’s detention had been so prolonged.
“We want to request explanations from the Chinese side about why he was placed under so-called residential surveillance for such a long period of time,” Maehara told public broadcaster NHK.
According to

the Jiji Press news agency, Takahashi arrived in Shanghai from Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hubei, late Saturday and was to leave for Tokyo Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, China on Saturday freed on bail the remaining Japanese employee of a construction firm who had been held on suspicion of illegally entering a military zone, Xinhua news agency said, in a further sign of improving ties.
The employees of unlisted Fujita were detained in northern China’s Hebei province last month while Beijing and Tokyo were embroiled in a territorial row sparked by Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain in disputed seas.
They were in China for a project to dispose of chemical weapons abandoned there by the Japanese military at the end of World War Two.
China on Sept 30 released the three others, after they acknowledged “having violated Chinese law and showed regret for their mistake”, state-run Xinhua said at the time.
The fourth, named as Sadamu Takahashi, was released on bail, according to authorities in Hebei’s provincial capital of Shijiazhuang, cited by the brief Xinhua report.
He was instructed “to write a statement of repentance” and has already “left the place where he was residing under surveillance after going through legal procedures”, Xinhua added.




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