Scholars from Japan and China on Monday opened new talks to draft a joint study of their history, a frequent source of friction between the Asian powers, officials said. The talks come amid a regional uproar after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this month denied that Japan coerced thousands of Asian women into brothels during World War II.
The joint study group, gathering 10 historians from each country, will meet behind closed doors for two days and pay a courtesy call on Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso, a foreign ministry statement said. The meeting follows the first talks held in December in Beijing. The latest meeting aims to set up the modalities for the study, the statement said. The joint history review was agreed to by Abe when he paid a fence-mending visit to China in September. The two countries have set a target date of publication of their joint study in 2008.
The review covers thousands of years of history, including periods of goodwill between the two civilisations. But the most bitterly disputed points involve Japan's 1931-1945 occupation of China, which remains a major cause of anger six decades afterwards. Beijing maintains 35 million Chinese were either killed or injured, most of them civilians, due to Japan's aggression, but the number is disputed by many Japanese historians. China has long charged that Japan has failed to atone for its wartime conduct, while Japan accuses China of ignoring the post-war period including Tokyo's economic support to Beijing in its history textbooks. Relations were badly strained under Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, due to his annual visits to a shrine venerating Japanese war dead and war criminals alike.
Prime Minister Abe's visit to China during the last quarter of 2006, and Prime Minister Wen's visit to Japan during the 2nd quarter of 2007, labelled the "ice breaking visit" and "ice thawing visit" respectively by Prime Minister Wen are also note-worthy events that could help improve the ties between the two nations.
The closer the relationship between East Asian nations, - namely China, Japan, and Korea [there is ONE Korea, not two. Just as there is only ONE China, not two] - the greater the prospects for development and growth in Asia-Pacific (A-P). An A-P bloc would lower American influence in this region, along with improvements and cohesion with ASEAN, a real-working "Co-Prosperity-Region" in Asia with global economic giants could be materialized.