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Japan has no intention of changing its policy toward China, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said Monday when asked to comment on Tokyo Gov.-elect Shintaro Ishihara’s series of anti-China remarks.

“Our relationship with Taiwan is at private and practical levels between the two governments. We don’t intend to change this framework and we will adhere to this policy,” Nonaka told a regular news conference.

The top government spokesman also said it cannot be denied that the Imperial Japanese Army killed a large number of Chinese people in the 1937 Nanking Massacre, although he said the exact death toll cannot be confirmed.

Nonaka said he himself has heard from a person who participated in Japan’s invasion of Nanjing about the killing and plundering carried out by the Japanese army.

Ishihara, in a magazine article, called China’s official death toll of 300,000 in the Nanking Massacre “political propaganda.”

“Without confirmed evidence, such incidents cannot be denied,” Nonaka said, adding that it is regrettable that these kinds of remarks will become a tool of political infighting at a time when Japan is trying to re-establish friendly ties with China.

Nonaka also said Japan does not use the word “Shina,” a term that carries overtones of wartime Japanese imperialism, to describe China as Ishihara did in a recent speech.

Japan’s friendly relationship with China must be protected, Nonaka said.

Chinese Ambassador to Japan Chen Jian expressed China’s views on Ishihara’s remarks in a meeting Monday with Naoto Kan, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo.

Kan, who will visit China starting April 29, told Chen that Ishihara collected votes in the election from those longing for a strong leader in the depressing atmosphere surrounding Japan, DPJ officials said.

The opposition leader pledged to try to find a way to overcome disputes over historical facts when he visits China, they said.

On Sunday, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper accused Ishihara of making inflammatory comments on issues concerning China and said that if Ishihara works toward “One China, one Taiwan” as Tokyo governor, he will destroy Japan-China relations.

In an editorial titled “Nonsense without Public Support,” the People’s Daily said Ishihara “made many extremely unfriendly comments against China.”

The 1972 Japan-China joint communique issued in Shanghai, which restored diplomatic ties between the two countries, stipulates that Japan recognizes Beijing as the sole legal government of China. The statement says Japan respects China’s argument that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.

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