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Special> Diaoyu Islands Dispute> Latest News
UPDATED: March 14, 2013
Former Japanese Ambassador Calls for Prompt Dialogue With China

Former Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa gave a speech on Wednesday at a lecture meeting held at a major conference hall in the western Japanese city of Osaka, urging the Japanese government to cool tensions with China and resume dialogue over disputed islands to avoid further conflicts.

The event, organized by the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), attracted about 700 business leaders and local officials from Osaka and its surrounding region of Kansai.

In his lecture, Niwa said that since Japan and China are located in a place on the globe where they are never able to hide or move from each other -- unlike other countries, or friends or relatives in our daily lives -- leaders of both countries must make consistent efforts to create a pleasant environment between the two neighbors, regardless of whether they like or dislike each other.

Particularly considering the damage to Japan-China diplomatic relations since September last year, the former ambassador said the Japanese government should start dialogues with China as soon as possible to prevent an escalation of a territorial row concerning the disputed Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku in Japanese) and to avoid any type of military conflict.

He pointed out that the best chance to arrange a top-level meeting will be during the China-Japan-South Korea trilateral summit, which is reportedly planned for this May in South Korea.

"From a historical point of view, territorial disputes between two countries have not been solved easily by talking. Therefore, I propose taking a break from the dispute while keeping up efforts to prevent heightened tensions concerning issues related to the islands in terms of defense, the coast guard, fisheries, energy and so on," Niwa said.

On the economic and cultural relationships with China over the past four decades, Niwa noted that during the period between 1972, when diplomatic relations between Japan and China were normalized, and 2011, Japan increased the value of exports to China by 340 times, while Japan's total export value grew only six times.

He also added that the number of people traveling between the two countries reached as high as about 5.4 million, stressing that the number, which was only 10,000 people in 1972, as well as the trade value, show the evidence that both countries have to be mutually cooperative and respect supportive behavior to develop the prosperity of all of their people and to create a better future.

Niwa served as the Japanese Ambassador to China between 2010 and 2012. After graduation from the School of Law at Nagoya University in 1962, he joined trading firm Itochu Corp and was appointed president in 1998, and chairman in 2004.

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2013)

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