China’s ambassador to Japan on Wednesday urged Tokyo to resolve historical and territorial issues to improve bilateral ties, while declining to comment on the possibility of a much-anticipated summit on the sidelines of an international conference in Beijing in November.
Speaking at a lecture in Tokyo, Cheng Yonghua said the biggest obstacle standing in the way of warmer relations is Japan’s handling of historical and territorial issues.
The central government needs to “get rid of (those) political hurdles promptly,” Cheng said.
“These two issues, which were caused by some people on the Japanese side, are unavoidable in improving the bilateral relationship. And (solving these issues) shouldn’t be delayed,” he added.
Japan-China relations have deteriorated due to a dispute over the ownership of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are administered by Japan but are also claimed by China, where they are called Diaoyu.
In addition, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit last December to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Class-A Japanese war criminals along with the country’s war dead, infuriated Beijing.
Abe has been unable to meet with top Chinese leaders one on one since he took office in December 2012. But he has indicated he would like to arrange a summit-talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing in November.
Cheng declined to comment on the prospects of summit talks taking place between the two leaders during the APEC event,but he admitted the international conference in the Chinese capital would offer an important opportunity.
Cheng said the Chinese government has taken notice of the positive stance taken by the Japanese leader, apparently referring to Abe, who has expressed a desire to establish stable, friendly bilateral ties.
At the Diet speech in late September, Abe expressed his wish to “build up a friendly relationship” with China.