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BEIJING (Kyodo) Four scholars backed by an Australian university and 40 bloggers from around the world have launched a project to collect ideas on how to settle Sino-Japanese disputes, the project leader said Thursday.

Scholars in Australia, Singapore and the United States have launched a blog to collect ideas on how to bury Sino-Japanese disputes that they believe are holding back unity throughout East Asia, said Peter Van Ness, a visiting fellow at Australian National University. The project is called Reconciliation between China and Japan: A Search for Solutions.

ANU’s Department of International Relations and International Center of Excellence in Asia-Pacific Studies are funding the project.

The blog ( www.china-japanreconciliation.blogspot.com) has grown to 40 members, including eight from Japan and seven from China as well as others from Europe, South Korea and the U.S., who are allowed to leave posts. Van Ness said he knew of no other blog dedicated to Sino-Japanese ties.

Blog members are massing “realistic” solutions to disputes, including issues left over from Japan’s 1931-1945 occupation of Chinese territory, and Japanese leaders’ visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which pays tribute to 14 Class-A war criminals, Van Ness said. The two nations also disagree on natural gas drilling claims in the East China Sea and accuse each other of potentially offensive military buildups.

“Hope for the region depends on their capacity to get along with each other,” Van Ness said.

Project participants will hold a workshop in Australia in August and another in Singapore in early 2007, where they will pull ideas together in a series of papers that should be merged into a journal or a book and sent to the Japanese and Chinese governments, Van Ness said. Participants currently have contacts in the Japanese government and with high-level Chinese scholars, he said.

The Japan-based business-academic group New Japan-China Friendship Committee for the 21st Century will attend the August conference, he said.

Project organizers hope the blog will attract the attention of anyone else in the world working on Sino-Japanese relations issues.

Van Ness, 72, who lived in Japan as a U.S. Army draftee and later a teacher at three Japanese universities, compared the importance of Sino-Japanese reconciliation for Asia with that of France and Germany for Europe.