Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda concluded a four-day visit to mainland China with lots of feel-good statements but few results. Before leaving he stopped in Qufu (Shandong), the birthplace of Confucius, who is also revered in Japan.
“Visiting Qufu . . . I thought that I had truly arrived at the starting point of culture 2,500 years ago,” he said as if to highlight the two countries’ common roots. Earlier he had stated that there would “be nothing good for the region and the world unless Japan and China have co-operative relations.”
At Pekin University he also told students that Japan must reflect on its mistakes and face up to its past aggression.
This is a far cry from three years ago when relations had reached a low point raising concern and tensions in Asia.
For many experts although the trip marks an upswing in Sino-Japanese relations it does nothing to solve some of the pending issues, first and foremost the question of energy resources in the East China Sea, which both countries want to exploit, and the growing alarm with which each side views the other’s military ambitions. The two also do not see eye to eye on limits to greenhouse gases, which Tokyo would like to see applied to all states. By contrast Beijing, the world’s largest polluter, would like to see developing countries exempted.
Unlike other heads of states whose visits end in major economic deals, the highlight of this summit was Mr Fukuda, 71, and Premier Wen Jiabao, 65, decked out in baseball uniforms and tossing a ball around in a state guesthouse gymnasium in Beijing.
However, for Takeshi Inoguchi, a political scientist at Tokyo's Chuo University, the visit affected ties positively but “was not a home run.”
All experts agree though that important deals will be worked out in the future since both countries realise that it is in their own self-interest to grow together rather than thwart each other.