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10th NPC & CPPCC, 2007> Latest Update
UPDATED: March 7, 2007 from chinadaily.com.cn
China Urges Japan to Face up to History
He said the Japanese government should take history as a mirror and looking forward to the future to properly handle the China-Japanese relations amid the opportunity of the 35th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral diplomatic ties in 2007, Li said

China on Tuesday urged Japan to face up to history and handle properly the issue of Japanese military's use of Asian women as sex slaves during World War II.

"Japan should face up to history, take the responsibility, and seriously view and properly handle the issue," said Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing as he met the press on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress.

"The conscription of comfort women is one of the serious crimes committed by the Japanese militarists during the second World War," said Li. "This is a historical fact."

He said the Japanese government should take history as a mirror and looking forward to the future to properly handle the China-Japanese relations amid the opportunity of the 35th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral diplomatic ties in 2007, Li said.

"History, in my view, is a strong progressive force," Li said. "It should not become a burden to the progression of peace."

On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will not apologise again for forcing women to act as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers in World War 2 even if a U.S. House of Representatives resolution demanding an apology is adopted.

Abe's statement triggered international outrage and contradicted evidence in Japanese documents unearthed in 1992 that showed that military authorities worked with contractors to forcibly procure about 200,000 women - mostly from Korea and China - for the brothels.

The remark also cast doubt on a 1993 Japanese government apology to the sex slaves issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

Kono's 1993 statement also acknowledged that many women were forced into prostitution, and that the military government was involved in some cases.

The government followed Kono's statement in 1995 by setting up a fund to meet victims' compensation demands. But the fund, which is due to expire on March 31, is based on private donations and has been attacked as a government ruse to avoid owning up to the abuse.

Last month, U.S. lawmakers introduced a nonbinding resolution urging Japan to apologize formally. Japan objected to the resolution, and said its leaders have apologized repeatedly.

Foreign minister Li Zhaoxing noted that Premier Wen Jiabao's April trip to Japan, the first for a Chinese premier in seven years, is of vital importance to promoting co-operation between the two countries in various fields.

Li said he believes the upcoming visit will be a complete success.

The foreign minister expressed China's willingness to talk on the joint development of the East China Sea to "seek a solution that both sides can accept, making the East China Sea a sea of friendship, of co-cooperation and of peace."

The bilateral ties between the neighbors improved from last October thanks to the joints efforts of the two sides, noted Li, saying China is willing to make more efforts to promote the healthy and stable development of the ties.

Hu to visit Russia

Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Russia will further boost the China-Russia strategic partnership of coordination, Li said.

"At the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Hu Jintao will visit Russia once again," Li said at a press conference on the sidelines of the fifth session of the Tenth National People's Congress.

This year marks the Year of China in Russia, and the two countries will hold about 200 activities to promote bilateral exchanges, deepen traditional friendship and further boost China- Russia strategic partnership of coordination, Li said.

"To hold the Year of Russia in China and the Year of China in Russia is an important step to implement the Sino-Russian Good- Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation," he said.

Top leaders, governments, relevant departments and the peoples of the two countries are working "hand in hand" to deepen the traditional friendship, raise the level of China-Russia strategic partnership of coordination so as to boost the common development of the two countries and to make new contributions to world peace and development, Li said.

Last year was the Year of Russia in China and more than 300 activities were jointly held by the two countries, according to the foreign minister.

Harmonious World

Li said that mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs between countries are the necessary conditions for building a harmonious world.

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