By Wang Xiaopeng
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s upcoming visit to China from Sunday may well serve as a good opportunity for both sides to enhance mutual trust and consolidate cooperation.
The visit, one week ahead of the beginning of 2012 when the two nations are set to mark the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations, is expected to deepen practical cooperation and foster new progress.
China and Japan are not only important neighbors but also major players in Asia and the world. The two nations hold a fair amount of sway over peace, stability and development regionally, as well as globally.
Reflecting on the history of interaction between China and Japan, which spans more than 2,000 years, the two countries have been friendly to each other for most of the period.
However, in the first half of the 20th century, Japan inflicted huge suffering on the Chinese people during their invasion. Even today, a number of Japanese politicians hold a militarist mindset, blatantly distort history and refuse to apologize for the country’s war crimes in the past.
Between 2001 and 2006, Japanese leaders repeatedly visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a symbol of Japan’s past militarism which honors some 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 major war criminals, and incurred widespread protests from Southeast Asian countries.
The stalemate did not thaw until leaders of the two nations carried out three trips later.
Hence, facing history honestly is vital to stabilizing and advancing China-Japan relations.
The two neighbors also have disputes over maritime resources and sovereignty and sea delimitation in the East China Sea.
China’s Defense Ministry said in October that close-in reconnaissance activities by Japanese planes and ships against China had undermined China’s security interests.