Major Japanese media outlets have named improving ties with China the top task for Japan’s cabinet in 2011 in their special new year coverage.
The Kyodo News Agency said it is a diplomatic priority for Japan to improve the deteriorated Sino-Japanese relations since a maritime collision in waters around China’s Diaoyu Islands in September made the bilateral ties suffer a nosedive.
The Mainichi Daily News also said Japan should improve its relations with China – while reinforcing the Japan-US alliance.
Japan stopped irrational confrontation and showed its willingness to settle bilateral issues through negotiation and cooperation, said Wu Ji’nan, an expert on Japanese relations at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.
“It’s a result after self-examination by Japanese government and media in the past few months,” Wu added.
“China is Japan’s biggest business partner and enhancing ties with China can guarantee Japan’s economic security,” said Wu.
The Asahi Shimbun indicated that China’s huge market and its robust economic growth offer a great economic opportunity for Japan.
To improve strained bilateral ties, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan was considering visiting China in the spring, according to the Japanese media.
If the visit takes place, Kyodo said Kan hopes to improve the bilateral “strategic and mutually beneficial relationship” between the two neighbors.
The Japanese government would seek opportunities to create conditions for Kan’s visit through all kinds of dialogue, and may send Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara to visit China to pave the way for Kan, Kyodo said.
Many factors would influence the development of Sino-Japanese ties, but the key to resolving issues remains on the Japanese side, said Gao Hong, an expert in the institute of Japanese studies at China Academy of Social Sciences.