• Kyodo

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Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao told a delegation of Japan’s ruling coalition Sunday that peaceful ties between the two countries will benefit both, and suggested Japan exercise caution over contentious issues relating to Japan’s militaristic past.

“If Japan and China deal peacefully with each other, it will benefit both of them. If they fight with each other, they will suffer great damage,” said Hu during a meeting with the delegation in the seaside resort of Beidaihe, east of Beijing.

“If Japan and China follow the policy of looking toward the future by making history serve as a mirror, they can achieve a sustainable friendship,” Hu said, according to Japanese officials.

The vice president was apparently urging Japan to be aware that ties may be damaged by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s planned visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine and the furor over a Japanese junior high school history textbook penned by nationalist historians.

China has been angered by Tokyo’s approval of the textbook in April, which critics say glosses over Japan’s wartime aggression.

Koizumi’s plan to visit the Shinto shrine, which honors war dead and Class A war criminals, on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II has added fuel to the fire.

Hiromu Nonaka, a heavyweight of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told Hu that he wants to “look squarely at history and make efforts to develop friendly ties” between the two countries.

“Although Japan and China face difficult problems, we’d like to look back on the path our ancestors have walked along and strive to further deepen our friendship,” Nonaka said.

Also present at the meetings were three other senior officials from the LDP and its two coalition partners — Makoto Koga of the LDP, Akihiro Ota of New Komeito, and Toshihiro Nikai of the New Conservative Party.

The delegation has been on a six-day visit to China since Tuesday.

In a meeting Saturday night with the Japanese delegation, Zeng Qinghong, head of the Organization Department of the Chinese Communist Party, reiterated China’s concern over Koizumi’s repeatedly stated plan to visit Yasukuni Shrine.

Zeng told the delegation that he “would like (Japan) to see to it that the Chinese people not be hugely disappointed and perturbed,” Japanese officials said.

Zeng, who is a candidate for the Political Bureau, also alluded to the Class A criminals honored by the shrine.

“We hope that you will recognize our understanding that in the previous world war, the peoples of China, Japan and Southeast Asian nations were all victims, and that war was waged as a result of a handful of militarist leaders,” he was quoted as saying.

Yasukuni enshrines 14 Class A war criminals including Gen. Hideki Tojo, a wartime prime minister of Japan.

Nonaka told Zeng that before his current visit to China, he had called Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda to urge Koizumi to re-examine the history of Yasukuni Shrine to remind himself of the cause of the present-day controversy surrounding the shrine.

However, the former LDP secretary general told Zeng that Koizumi’s plan to pay a visit to the shrine is a matter that the prime minister himself must decide upon.

In a series of meetings the Japanese party officials held on their latest trip to China, Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, expressed opposition to Koizumi’s planned Yasukuni visit.

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