China says Japan's 'one step forward, two steps back' not good for ties

Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Japan's ambassador to China Mr Yutaka Yokoi, that he hoped for greater improvement in relations.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Japan's ambassador to China Mr Yutaka Yokoi, that he hoped for greater improvement in relations.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's foreign minister on Thursday said that ties with Japan should not take two steps back for every step forward, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a rare appearance at an anniversary event for the normalisation of diplomatic relations.

Speaking on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the resumption of ties between Beijing and Tokyo, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Japan's ambassador to China, Mr Yutaka Yokoi, that he hoped for greater improvement in relations.

"We hope that the Japanese government can pursue a more positive policy towards China... and not take one step back for each step forward, even two steps back for each step forward," Mr Wang said, according to a statement released on the ministry website yesterday (Fri).

Relations have been complicated for decades by the legacy of Japan's wartime aggression, as well as by a festering territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

Mr Abe on Thursday evening made an appearance at a Chinese embassy event in Tokyo that jointly celebrated the anniversary, as well as China's Oct 1 National Day.

Mr Wang called the appearance "good news" and added: "We hope for more good news in China-Japan relations and not for bad news to follow shortly after good news."

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Mr Abe also exchanged congratulatory messages on Friday, in which Mr Li said that the two countries should "properly manage and control their contradictions and differences", China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

Japan's Cabinet on Thursday announced Oct 22 as the date of a snap election where Mr Abe, a conservative who returned to power in 2012, hopes a recent boost in voter support will help his Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition maintain a simple majority. It now holds a two-thirds "super" majority.