• Kyodo

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, meeting with a business delegation from Japan led by political heavyweight Yohei Kono, expressed his desire to get relations with Japan on the right track.

“This year is the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, and China attaches great importance to China-Japan ties,” Li said Monday.

In the meeting at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People with the group from the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, Li also said the two countries should step up efforts toward the “normal direction of development” in the spirit of “taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future.”

The group is headed by Kono, a former chief Cabinet secretary, foreign minister and speaker of the Lower House.

It is the first time this year that Li or any other top Chinese leader has met with a high-profile Japanese figure.

Kono, who has developed close ties with China, and corporate executives belonging to the association last met with Li in 2015.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and China, but the relationship has been marked by bad feelings in recent years.

Chinese officials have blamed Japan for not having a correct view of wartime history and not being sincere enough in acknowledging China’s rise.

“Of course, we want to improve relations with Japan for the benefit of our two peoples. But first of all, Japan has to adopt the right frame of mind, be sensible and come to terms with the fact of China’s development and revitalization,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his annual news conference last month.

Wang noted that this year marks not only the 45th anniversary of normalized relations between the two countries but also the 80th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.

Wang said the two anniversaries are in stark contrast, with “the one leading to peace and friendship and the other to war and confrontation.”

A skirmish between Japanese and Chinese troops near the bridge on the outskirts of Beijing on July 7, 1937, developed into full-scale warfare that lasted until Japan’s surrender 1945.

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