Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited Beijing on Sunday and Monday for the first time as prime minister and met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao. It was the first Japanese prime minister’s official visit to China since the Democratic Party of Japan came to power.

Mr. Hu shared a rather close stance with Mr. Noda on North Korea after the death of its leader Kim Jong Il. But Mr. Noda failed to have Mr. Hu offer progress in the joint development of natural gas resources in the East China Sea — an issue Japan is interested in. The talks on the issue has hit a snag following a Chinese fishing boat’s ramming two Japanese Coast Guard ships near Japan’s Senkaku Islands in September 2010.

Mr. Noda was originally scheduled to visit China on Dec. 12 and 23. But his visit eventually took place after Kim’s death. It provided an important chance for Japanese and Chinese leaders to exchange opinions on North Korea.

Stressing that it is important to prevent the North Korean leader’s death from negatively impacting the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Mr. Noda called on China, the chair of the six-party talks on the North’s nuclear weapons program, to press Pyongyang to return to the talks. Mr. Hu said that he wanted to keep close communication with Japan and other countries concerned and expressed a hope to resume the six-party talks “with the countries concerned keeping coolheadedness.”

Japan should remember the fact that China is careful not to incite North Korea. It should pay attention to what both Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen said. They said that they would like to realize North Korea’s denuclearization “through dialogue and cooperation.”

China wants to avoid a situation in which results of the six-party talks will lead to power struggle in the North Korean leadership and consequently the collapse of the North Korean regime, which will directly affect China.

The Chinese leaders gave a cold response to Mr. Noda’s request that China cooperate with Japan to solve the issue of the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea. Both Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen only expressed a hope that the issue will be solved through “dialogue and cooperation” between Japan and North Korea.

Japan needs to consider how to deepen “mutually beneficial strategic relations” with China as China will undergo a leadership change next year.

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