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Saturday, April 23, 2005

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japan and China leaders to meet

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japan and China leaders to meet
Japan and China leaders to meet
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday, amid efforts to defuse a row between the two countries.

The two leaders are attending an Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia that has been overshadowed by the dispute.

It centres on the approval by Tokyo of new school textbooks which China says gloss over Japan's wartime aggression.

Addressing delegates on Friday, Mr Koizumi reiterated his country's "deep remorse" over World War II.

The two men are at the Asia-African summit in Jakarta, which is being attended by 80 nations.

'Tremendous damage'

They will meet later on Saturday, according to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, but the exact time is unknown.

"The prime minister said they will talk about friendship and cooperation, which are the key to prosperity of the region," Akira Chiba, a spokesman for Mr Koizumi's delegation, told the Associated Press news agency.

For its part, China welcomed the Japanese prime minister's statement of regret, but demanded some action from Japan.

"That... Koizumi expressed this attitude in this arena is welcome," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan.

"But to express it is one aspect. What's of much more importance is the action. You have to make it a reality," he added.

When the summit started on Friday, Mr Koizumi said: "In the past Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations.

Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage
Junichiro Koizumi
Japanese prime minister
"Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility."

The wording repeats previous Japanese apologies - but analysts say the international setting gives the statement added weight.

The BBC's Tim Johnston in Jakarta says the apology should go some way to placating Chinese anger, which was recently reignited by a history textbook that the Chinese felt paid insufficient attention to atrocities.

UN differences

However China protested on Friday over the visit by Japanese lawmakers to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo honouring the Japanese who died during World War II, including a number of war criminals.

"As Sino-Japanese relations are facing a serious situation, we express our strong dissatisfaction over the negative actions of some Japanese politicians who ignore the larger interests," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by AFP news agency.

In his address, Mr Koizumi also repeated Japan's call for an overhaul of the UN Security Council and underscored Tokyo's qualifications as a potential permanent member.

Japan's campaign for a permanent seat on the Security Council has been one of the factors fuelling the recent anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities.

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