Staff writer

Tokyo hopes that expanding cooperation and friendly ties will top the agenda today when Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrives on the first state visit by a Chinese head of state.

But the agenda could be pushed aside by differences over how Japan should apologize for its wartime aggression in China and how it clarifies its stance on Taiwan.

The differences necessitated last-minute negotiations between Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and his Chinese counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan, who arrived here Tuesday.

Jiang’s visit could mark a pivotal point in the bilateral relationship: Toshiyuki Shikata, a professor at Teikyo University, said that the countries’ failure to effectively handle their history and Taiwan issues during Jiang’s visit could cause bilateral ties to take a turn for the worse. But Tokyo sees a maturing relationship in which the two countries play an increasingly important global role.

In fact, bilateral dialogue has been expanding into a wide range of fields to cover cooperation in areas such as nuclear nonproliferation. Toward that end, Japan and China agreed in early August that they will hold high-level consultations on nuclear nonproliferation and the East Asian financial crisis.

In a policy speech at the Diet in early August, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi talked of the two “nations bearing responsibility for the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. Japan and China must extend their relationship to further develop dialogue and exchange beyond mere bilateral ties, and have an eye on the international community.”

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