BEIJING – Japanese and Chinese officials agreed Sunday to step up cooperation on energy-conservation and environmental measures during the first high-level governmental meeting since their leaders last month held official talks for the first time.
The one-day forum in Beijing, attended by a total of 500 government and company officials, comes as tensions between Asia’s two biggest economies have eased a little, particularly in nonpolitical fields.
“Through our cooperation in the areas of environment and energy conservation, I believe we will be able to add positive elements to political relations of the two countries,” Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, told the forum in Beijing.
Xie, China’s chief climate negotiator, said the two countries, which shoulder great responsibilities in the international community, should promote technical cooperation and people-to-people exchanges at all levels to deepen mutual trust.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s inaugural meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Nov. 10 on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit provided impetus for the two sides to resume the forum, which focuses on ways to save energy and overcome environmental problems.
The forum has been held every year since its creation in 2006 but was suspended after the Senkaku Islands row flared and following Abe’s visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honors convicted Class-A war criminals, a move that enraged China.
“The leaders’ meeting was the first step to improving relations. This forum taken part in by so many people from Japan and China reflects our strong expectations that this will be the next step to improving relations,” said Yosuke Takagi, senior vice minister at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo.
Ahead of the forum, Takagi also held bilateral talks with Xie and agreed that the two countries will facilitate a range of exchanges on environmental and energy issues, according to a Japanese official.
Companies and government entities of the two countries struck 41 agreements on environmental cooperation, such as undertaking joint research programs on ways to combat pollution in China.
Hiroshi Amano, one of three Japan-born scientists to win this year’s Nobel Prize in physics for inventing the blue light-emitting diode, was scheduled to give a speech at the forum.
Pointing out that China is the world’s biggest producer of LEDs, Amano, a Nagoya University professor, said if Japan’s scientific expertise is combined to a greater degree with China’s production capacity, the two countries can further contribute to the world’s efforts to save energy.