(Mainichi: January 16, 2015 – p. 2)
By Akira Kudo in Beijing
Ambassador to China Masato Kitera, 62, gave an interview to Mainichi Shimbun at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing where he indicated that he will call on China to develop a future-oriented relationship of cooperation on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. He also disclosed that major cultural exchange events will be planned for this year, asserting the need for the two countries to share “moving experiences” through exchanges.
The Xi Jinping leadership of China regards this year as the “70th anniversary of victory in the anti-Japan resistance war” and is putting pressure on Japan on the history issues. Kitera said: “Japan has taken the path of a peaceful nation in the 70 years after the war. This policy direction will not change. I will stress this point to the Chinese side.” He added that, “It is necessary to develop a future-oriented relationship of cooperation for regional peace and stability.”
Kitera stressed that the agreement reached at the Japan-China summit meeting last November to promote dialogue and cooperation and develop the bilateral relationship is an important achievement. With regard to the high-level economic dialogue between the ministers of both countries, which has been suspended since August 2010, he said: “I would like to make efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation in all areas and at all levels that are at a standstill and produce results this year.”
The Ambassador pointed out that, “Even cultural exchanges are often affected by the deterioration of political relations.” He was keen on holding major cultural events that will impress upon the people of both countries the improvement of bilateral relations. He also said: “People who have shared moving experiences will have a sense of affinity and will not clash so easily,” indicating his desire to support cultural and grassroots exchanges.
Kitera also touched on the record number of Chinese visitors to Japan for 16 consecutive months since September 2013 and that they totaled way over 2 million last year. He observed that “deeper understanding of Japan by more people will also help advance the bilateral relationship.” He expressed his hopes for the positive effect of further relaxation of visa requirements for Chinese visitors from Jan. 19.