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Speech by Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council of The People's Republic of China at the Japanese Diet

2007-04-12

Tokyo, Japan, 12 April 2007

Respected Mr. Yohei Kono, Speaker of the House of Representatives,

Respected Mme. Chikage Ogi, President of the House of Councilors,

Members of the Diet,

It gives me great pleasure today to address the Japanese Diet and meet with you, members of the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors. I would like to extend my cordial greetings and best wishes to you and to the Japanese people. In particular, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks and pay high tribute to the Japanese friends in various sectors for the longstanding and valuable contribution they have made to China-Japan friendship.

This is my second visit to Japan. I paid my first visit to Japan 15 years ago. It was also in April when cherries were in full bloom. The goodwill of the Japanese people toward the Chinese people left a deep impression on me. Now, I am visiting Japan to learn more about the new progress Japan has made and, more importantly, contribute my share to improving and growing China's relations with Japan. If Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China last October can be described as an ice-breaking trip, I hope my visit this time will be an ice-melting journey. I have come for friendship and cooperation. This is the purpose of my visit, and it is also the theme of my speech today.

To advance friendship and cooperation, we need to inherit and carry forward the historical tradition of the longstanding China-Japan friendship. In the course of over 2,000 years of interactions, the Chinese nation and the Japanese nation have promoted their respective development and progress by drawing on each other's strengths.

Beginning with the Qin and Han dynasties, Chinese technologies like rice growing, mulberry growing, silkworm rearing, textile making and smelting were introduced to Japan, so was Chinese culture, including Chinese characters, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Chinese decrees and institutions and art. Japan sent envoys to China on over ten occasions during the Tang dynasty. Abe no Nakamaro, one of them, lived in China for several decades. He became a senior government official and made friends with famous poets Wang Wei and Li Bai. Jianzhen, a Chinese monk, tried five times on sailing trips to Japan but failed. He went blind as a result. But Jianzhen did not give up. His sixth journey was a success. That was when he was 66 years old and it took him 12 years to realize his lifelong dream. Monk Jianzhen brought to Japan Buddhist teachings that he believed would save the world and the people. He dedicated himself to fostering the Chinese people's friendship with the Japanese people. Mr. Yohei Kono, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan, said during the opening ceremony of the Chinese Culture Festival last December that the Japan's cultural tradition is imbued with the splendor of the Chinese culture, and that this shows the inseparable ties between Japan and China. As the Chinese culture was introduced to Japan, the Japanese people made many innovations while maintaining the traditional Japanese culture. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan experienced rapid economic and social development. A large number of Chinese students came to Japan to study modern science and technology and democratic and progressive thoughts in search of a way to revitalize China. This promoted China's development and progress. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, pioneer of China's democratic revolution, received support and assistance from many Japanese friends in carrying out revolutionary activities. Zhou Enlai, Lu Xun and Guo Moruo studied in Japan and forged close friendship with the Japanese people.

The length, scale and influence of China-Japan friendly exchanges are rarely seen in the course of world civilization. These exchanges are our shared historical and cultural heritage which we should hold in great value, enrich and pass on from generation to generation.

To consolidate our friendship and cooperation, we need to draw lessons from the unfortunate days of the past. As we all know, the over 2,000 years of friendly contacts between the Chinese and Japanese peoples were once interrupted by a traumatic and unfortunate period of over 50 years in modern times. The war of aggression against China launched by Japan inflicted untold sufferings on the Chinese people, causing tremendous loss of life and property. The trauma it caused to the Chinese people was beyond description. This war was also a devastating and painful experience to the Japanese people, and it is still fresh in the memory of the elderly people. As we review the past, we are keenly aware that peace and friendship between China and Japan are vital for our countries and the well-being of our peoples. What a country or a nation has learned in the course of its development, whether in a positive way or negative way, is an invaluable asset. What we have learned from our own historical experiences and lessons is something we have learned which is far more direct, profound and effective. If a nation with great cultural tradition can learn from its past, it shows that it is full of confidence in its future.

The older generation of Chinese leaders stated on many occasions that it was a handful of militarists who were responsible for that war of aggression. The Japanese people were also victims of the war, and the Chinese people should live in friendship with them. During the war, Marshal Nie Rongzhen rescued a Japanese orphan named Mihoko from the battlefield. He took good care of her and managed to send her back to her family. In 1980, Mihoko went on a special tour to China with her family to visit Marshal Nie. This story moved many people. After the war, 2,808 Japanese children were left behind in China and became orphans. The Chinese people, despite their own sufferings caused by the war, saved the lives of these orphans and brought them up. Since the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations, the Chinese Government has made great efforts to help these orphans to be united with their family members. Now 2,513 of them have returned to Japan. Many of them founded the "Association for Thanking Chinese Foster Parents" and other groups. They donated funds and built cemeteries for their foster parents and erected monuments in China to express their gratitude to their foster parents. One of the monuments reads: "We express our deep gratitude to our foster parents for their care and love. They will live forever in our hearts."

I also wish to tell you something else. In the port city of Huludao in Northern China, which was used to ship oil for the Japanese troops during the war of aggression, a stele stands beside several old oil tanks left from the war. The stele keeps record of the efforts made by the Chinese people, shortly after the end of the war, to overcome difficulties of poor transportation and scarce resources to repatriate 1.05 million Japanese nationals safely to Japan. A Japanese woman who returned home from Huludao gave a passionate account of her own experience. She said: "Over 200 Japanese children received care and help at cold nights in Shitou Village. We were given help on our way to Huludao. The food given to us by local people in Dongning helped us survive. And in Huludao we had delicious oranges. All this is unforgettable to me. We were so scared, but the kind and forgiving Chinese people calmed us down and helped us eventually embark on the steamboat heading home." Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said last June when attending the commemorative activities in Huludao: "The repatriation is a true testament to the magnanimity of the Chinese nation and the humanitarian spirit of the Chinese people."

We, the Chinese Government and people, have all along taken a forward-looking approach. We believe that we need to take history as a mirror to guide the growth of our ties in the future. By stressing the importance of drawing the lessons from history, we do not mean to perpetuate hatred. Rather, we want to secure a better future for our relations. Since the normalization of diplomatic ties between China and Japan, the Japanese Government and leaders have on many occasions stated their position on the historical issue, admitted that Japan had committed aggression and expressed deep remorse and apology to the victimized countries. The Chinese Government and people appreciate the position they have taken. We sincerely hope that the Japanese side will act as it has stated and honor its commitment. Peace will bring benefit to China and Japan, while confrontation can only do harm to them. We should carry forward the friendship between the two peoples from generation to generation. This is in keeping with the historical trend and meets the desire of the two peoples, and it is also what Asia and the international community hope to see.

After the war, Japan embarked on the path of peaceful development, and became a leading economic power and influential member in the international community. As a friendly neighbor of Japan, the Chinese people support the Japanese people in their continued pursuit of peaceful development.

To enhance friendship and cooperation, we need to steer China-Japan relations on a correct course. This year marks the 35th anniversary of normalization of China-Japan diplomatic ties. Thanks to our joint efforts, great progress has been made in China-Japan relations. Two-way trade rose to US$207.3 billion in 2006 from US$1.1 billion in the year of normalization of diplomatic ties. There are now 233 pairs of sister cities, and over 4.8 million mutual visits were made in 2006. The growth of China-Japan friendly relations has brought great benefit to our peoples. China has received support and assistance from the Japanese Government and people in its reform, opening-up and modernization drive. This is something the Chinese people will never forget.

In a new historical period, China and Japan both share increasing common interests and face major challenges. With this in mind, we the leaders of the two countries have reached agreement on building a strategic relationship of mutual benefit. Our goal is to follow the trend of the times and popular aspirations, lift China-Japan relations to a new historical stage, so that China and Japan will live together in peace, enjoy lasting friendship and carry out cooperation of mutual benefit for common development. To achieve this goal, it is important that we adhere to the following principles:

First, increase mutual trust and honor commitment. An ancient Chinese sage said that "one should value credibility in relations with others" and that "one should honor commitment made to friends". There is also a saying in Japan that "one cannot establish oneself without credibility". Honoring commitment is particularly important in state-to-state relations. The Sino-Japanese Joint Statement and other two political documents between China and Japan settled the past China-Japan relations politically, legally and as a matter of reality and set the future direction of our relations. These three documents are the foundations of China-Japan relations. No matter what may happen, as long as the principles established in these three documents are strictly abided by, China-Japan relations will continue to grow smoothly. Here, I would like to talk about the Taiwan issue, because it represents China's core national interests. We will make every effort to seek a peaceful solution to the Taiwan issue, but we will never tolerate "Taiwan independence" and we firmly oppose "de jure Taiwan independence" and separatist activities in any other form pursued by the Taiwan authorities. It is hoped that Japan will appreciate the highly sensitive nature of the Taiwan issue, honor its commitment and handle this issue prudently.

Second, seek common ground while shelving differences and uphold the larger interests of the two countries. It should be recognized that China and Japan do have differences over some specific interests and some issues. But these differences are of secondary importance compared with our common interests. We need to view our relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, take a responsible position towards history, and conduct dialogue and consultation with sincerity and trust. By doing so, we can find proper solutions to the issues in the bilateral relations. With regard to the issue of the East China Sea, our two countries should follow the principle of shelving differences and seeking joint development, and conduct active consultation so as to make substantive progress towards peaceful settlement of the differences and make the East China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

Third, promote common development based on equality and mutual benefit. China and Japan have much to offer each other economically and enjoy great potential and broad prospect of cooperation. Thanks to years of mutual efforts, our two economies have become increasingly interdependent. China-Japan economic cooperation is a relationship of mutual benefit and win-win progress. The economic development of both countries presents opportunities rather than poses threats to each another. During my meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday, we agreed to upgrade bilateral economic cooperation by launching China-Japan high level economic dialogue mechanism. To start with, the two countries should further strengthen cooperation in energy, environmental protection, banking, new and high technology, information and communication and protection of intellectual property rights.

Fourth, strengthen exchanges with an eye on the future. Economic cooperation and cultural exchange are two pillars underpinning state-to-state relations. Economic cooperation aims at promoting mutual benefit and win-win progress, and cultural exchange opens hearts and minds of peoples. As leaders of the two countries, we have agreed to strengthen cultural exchanges and mutual visits of people. Young people are the future and hope of a country. They also represent the future and hope of China-Japan friendly relations. China is ready to work with Japan to ensure the smooth implementation of the large-scale exchange program between the young peoples of the two countries, and thus sow the seeds of hope to sustain friendship between our two peoples.

Fifth, respond to challenges through close consultation. China and Japan are both important countries in Asia and the world, and their relations have great impact on Asia and the world. With this in mind, we should maintain close coordination and cooperation, make joint effort to uphold peace and stability in Northeast Asia and promote East Asia regional cooperation, thus contributing to the invigoration of Asia. Also with this in mind, we should jointly address global issues ranging from energy security, environmental protection, climate change, prevention and control of diseases to counter-terrorism, combating transnational crimes and the prevention of proliferation of weapons of massive destruction. China appreciates Japan's desire to play a bigger role in international affairs and is ready to strengthen dialogue and consultation with Japan on major regional and international issues, including the reform of the United Nations.

Dear Members of the Diet,

Great achievements have been made in China's economic and social development since the country embarked on the reform and opening-up program 29 years ago. However, with a huge population, weak foundation and imbalances in regional development, China remains a developing country. China has a long way to go before it can realize modernization. We in China now have two major tasks: Focusing on boosting social productive forces and promoting social fairness and justice. To accomplish these two tasks, we need to advance reform on two fronts: market-oriented economic reform and reform of the political system aimed at developing socialist democracy. In spite of the many bottleneck constraints on China's development in terms of resources, energy and the environment, we have over the years succeeded in embarking on a new path of development, namely, to put into practice a scientific thinking on development and build a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society with all-round, coordinated and sustainable social and economic development. China mainly relies on itself in pursuing development. As China develops, it will contribute its due share to the development of its neighbors and the world. We are pursuing scientific, harmonious and peaceful development and striving to turn China into a prosperous, democratic, culturally-advanced, harmonious and modernized country.

We in China have a time-honored tradition of prizing virtue rather than force and valuing credibility and harmony. I can tell you in a responsible way that China will remain unchanged in its determination to pursue peace, development and cooperation, a path of peaceful development and the building of a harmonious world.

Dear Members of the Diet,

There is a stone lantern at the Jianzhen Memorial Hall in the Daming Temple of Yangzhou city. Back in 1980, it was presented and lit in person by Monk Morimoto Takayori from Japan's Toshodaiji Temple, where another stone lantern stands. With ever-burning lights, this pair of lanterns echo each other from afar and symbolize the bright future of the eternal friendship between the Chinese and Japanese peoples. As a Japanese saying goes, despite the wind hollowing, the mountain remains unmoved. Despite twists and turns and setbacks in China-Japan relations, the foundation of the friendship between the Chinese and Japanese peoples remains as unshakable as Mount Tai and the Fuji Mountain. To create a bright future for China-Japan relations requires the unremitting efforts of the two governments and peoples. Let us join hands and work together for the ever lasting China-Japan friendship, for a new strategic relationship of mutual benefit between our countries, and for peace and development in Asia and the world.

Thank you.

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