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2008年10月27日 (月)


(Mainichi Japan) October 26, 2008

Japan, China and ROK should strengthen cooperation in response to financial crisis

社説:麻生外交 日中韓の連携を強める時だ

When Prime Minister Taro Aso visited China for the first time since he took office, he met separately with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, and with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. In the respective meetings, Aso agreed with them to develop Japan-China and Japan-South Korea relations, and strengthen their cooperation to respond to a range of problems, including the financial crisis that is spreading across the world.


A framework for cooperation in northeastern Asia that is broader than bilateral relations is necessary to tackle regional issues such as the North Korean security problem and global warming, in addition to the financial crisis and the increasingly serious world economic condition. It is hoped that the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea will make efforts to leverage cooperation among their countries for the good of the international community.


President Hu visited Japan in May and July this year, and then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda reciprocated by visiting China in August. Aso's visit was the fourth Japan-China summit meeting this year. Such frequent summit talks are unprecedented.


This year marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Peace and Amity Treaty. During a reception to celebrate the anniversary, Prime Minister Aso said in his speech that there are few countries more important to Japan than China, and that the two countries are indispensable partners for each other.


Complementary relations between the two countries have deepened rapidly. The amount of bilateral trade last year increased to more than 200 times the volume when the two countries normalized their diplomatic relations, and surpassed that between Japan and the United States for the first time. China is Japan's largest trading partner now. The number of people traveling between the two countries exceeded 5 million last year.


Needless to say, there are pressing issues between the two countries. President Hu promised to properly respond to food poisoning caused by Chinese-made gyoza dumplings. Aso and Wen have confirmed that they will hold working-level consultations on the development of gas fields in the East China Sea toward the implementation of joint development and other solutions. China is urged to sincerely respond to these issues.


Prime Minister Aso said in the reception, "Japan and China must spread the spirit of common benefit throughout the world, and "We are looking ahead to the common future."


We agree to the idea of dealing with issues over which they are divided in a spirit of common benefit. It will lead to the development of the strategically reciprocal relationship between the two countries.


During the Japan-South Korea summit talks, the two leaders agreed to continue their cooperation in handling the issue of North Korea's nuclear program and continuation of top-level exchanges. The two leaders did not mention the disputed Takeshima Islands (which South Korea calls Dokdo) after Japan's new school curriculum guidance's description of the islands strained the bilateral ties. We appreciate the two leaders' stance of putting priority to cooperation toward a new era of Japan-South Korea relations.


Premier Wen and President Lee expressed their support for Aso's proposal that summit talks between the three countries should be held in Japan by the end of this year. Initially, the trilateral summit talks were scheduled to be held in Kobe in September, but were indefinitely postponed following the sudden resignation of then Prime Minister Fukuda.


It remains to be seen whether the trilateral summit will be held within this year because it remains unclear exactly when Aso will dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap general election later this year. However, it is of great significance that the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea meet regularly -- separately from international conferences -- to exchange frank opinions over issues in Asia as well as international affairs.


毎日新聞 20081025日 044


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