Key anniversary ignored amid icy Japan-China ties
By Aya Igarashi, The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News NetworkThe Yomiuri Shimbun-- Monday marked the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship, but no celebratory events were held in either country, a stark indicator of the chill the standoff over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyutais) has sent through the bilateral relationship.
August 15, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
On Monday, nine lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties, including Kiyohiko Toyama, a New Komeito and House of Representatives member, met with senior officials of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the International Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.
According to Toyama, both sides affirmed the spirit of the treaty, which stipulates that the two nations will settle all disputes by peaceful means.
However, Xiong Bo, a deputy director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Asian Affairs Department, demanded Japan admit the existence of a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, and expressed reservations about a summit meeting being sought by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“We can't arrange summit talks because there's no prospect they will produce fruitful results,” he said.
Ceremonial events were held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on the occasions of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the treaty in August 2003 and the 30th anniversary in October 2008. Then Prime Minister Taro Aso and then Chinese President Hu Jintao attended the 30th anniversary event.
This year, China has cancelled a ceremonial event for the 35th anniversary of the treaty's signing and postponed a “Tokyo-Beijing Forum,” which was organized by the Genron NPO, a nonprofit think tank, and China Daily, and was scheduled to be held in Beijing on Monday. China said these decisions were taken because there was no likelihood the events would produce good results.
Some small cracks have appeared in the ice. In late July, Beijing accepted a visit by Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki. Saiki agreed with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that the two countries “will continue communication through various channels.” Junichi Ihara, director general of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, visited Beijing from Aug. 4 to 6 and met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and other officials.