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Way Being Paved for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao February 15, 2007

Posted by David in North-East Asia.
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As part of the on-going efforts to improve Japan/China relations, China’s Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing arrived in Tokyo on February 15, 2007 (China Daily 15-02-2007). This trip is “the highest-level visit by a Chinese official since the two countries began repairing tense relations last year.”

The visit’s aim is to “lay the groundwork” for Premier Wen Jiabao’s April trip to Japan. Of course, the two sides will most likely discuss (as mentioned in a related 15-02-2007 BBC News article) the Yasukuni Shrine, Japanese school textbooks, gas field exploration rights, and the ownership of Senkaku islands.

However, I think another important point of discussion will be the deal recently reached with North Korea.

There is little doubt that Tokyo’s refusal to give aid to the DPRK will be brought up more than once. After-all the deal is a direct result of China’s efforts to make the 6 Party Talks a success. But I don’t think this will be an easy discussion.

According to a February 15, 2007 Japan Times article, the DPRK has already started to whine about their new deal. What a surprise!

The article mentions that a “North Korean Foreign Ministry official said that Pyongyang was unhappy with Tokyo’s refusal to give aid as part of the six-party deal struck this week in exchange for the North’s denuclearization.” The official goes on to say, “Japan must fulfill its commitment as a member of the six-party talks.”

Yes, that’s correct. The hermit-state is lecturing others on the importance of fulfilling commitments.

“Japan has refused to provide energy aid to North Korea until the abductions issue is resolved,” and that angers Pyongyang since it “considers the abductions of Japanese by its agents in the 1970s and 1980s an issue that has already been settled.”

What will also be a topic of discussion between Li Zhaoxing and his counter-part (and eventually anger ‘Dear Leader’) is that Tokyo “has no plans to lift economic sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests in the past seven months.”

The US may have backed down in its dealings with the DPRK, but for the moment, at least, Japan has not. Unfortunately, this “hawkish” stance may not last much longer (Asahi Shimbun 15-02-2007). “It is just a matter of time before Japan takes part in the assistance measures. With Russia and possibly other European nations participating, it will not be possible for Japan not to take part.” Sadly the comment does hold a certain amount of truth.

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