Mori reiterates call for Zhu to visit Japan soon

Yoshiro Mori, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, on Tuesday called for a visit to Japan by Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji in the near future and pledged to respect Beijing’s “one China” policy on Taiwan, Japanese officials said.

Mori made the request in a meeting with Zeng Qinghong, an aide to Chinese President Jiang Zemin, the officials told reporters.

Japan and China have yet to set a date for Zhu’s visit, although the two nations agreed upon such a meeting in July when Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visited Beijing.

Obuchi suffered a severe stroke Sunday, and his Cabinet resigned Tuesday. Mori is widely believed to be Obuchi’s successor as prime minister.

Zeng, who arrived earlier Tuesday for a five-day visit, is a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and director of the General Office under the committee.

“There are various opinions within our party,” Mori was quoted as telling Zeng. “But the basis of our beliefs is the (1972) Japan-China joint communique.”

The communique recognizes Beijing as the sole legal government of China, thus committing Japan to respecting China’s claims over Taiwan under the “one China” policy.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province. Zeng reiterated China’s call on Japan to abide by the communique, saying, “Taiwan is our nation’s problem. It’s neither two Chinas nor an independent Taiwan.”

Mori and Zeng agreed on the need for the two nations to “build a future-oriented relationship toward the 21st century,” the officials said.