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China sets three new conditions for PM Abe’s visit

(Mainichi: July 23, 2015 – Top play)

 

 By Akira Kudo in Beijing

 

 In light of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reluctance to accept China’s invitation to attend the ceremony marking its victory in the anti-Japan resistance war on Sept. 3, State Councillor Yang Jiechi (with the rank of vice premier) told Shotaro Yachi, head of the National Security Secretariat, at their meeting in Beijing on July 16 that even if Abe does not attend the ceremony, he will be accepted for a visit on “three conditions.” This was revealed by several diplomatic sources in Beijing on July 22. It is believed that China will now engage in negotiations with Japan on the interpretation of these conditions, in order to work for progress in talks on the timetable for the visit.

 

 China wants to tout Abe’s visit to China as its diplomatic achievement on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. According to an informed source, the new conditions proposed by China are: (1) adherence to the four key political documents on the bilateral relationship; (2) adherence to the spirit of the Murayama Statement; and (3) Abe’s indication of his intent not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine.

 

 Yang met with Yachi at the Diaoyutai Guest House in Beijing for about 5.5 hours. They reportedly agreed to continue and advance dialogue between the two countries and conducted coordination on a summit meeting between Abe and President Xi Jinping. After China set the three conditions, it appears that the Japanese side has begun looking into them.

 

 Of the three conditions, a commitment not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine is difficult for Abe to accept. It is possible that China may compromise and accept an unofficial message on this. China had also set this as a condition for two previous summit meetings, but the summits still took place without an official statement on the shrine visit.

 

 For Japan, a compromise from China, which is the de facto target of the security bills, would have a tremendous political impact. It is thought that China presented its three conditions fully conscious of this point. If the motives of both sides converge, the situation may move quickly toward a visit by Abe.

 

 There is serious concern in China that the security bills are aimed at China and may run counter to the spirit of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship and other key documents. Yang told Yachi at their meeting on July 16 that he was “concerned” and “could not help suspecting” that the passage of the security bills by the House of Representatives “indicates that Japan is abandoning its strictly defense-oriented policy.” It is reckoned that China thinks that if Abe does not participate in the ceremony attended by leaders of other countries, it will be necessary to set certain conditions for his visit in order to minimize negative reactions inside the country.

 

 Furthermore, Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II to be issued in August before the ceremony in Beijing is also a cause of concern. Premier Li Keqiang stated at his meeting with Yachi on July 17: “We hope that Japan will seriously address the concerns of the Asian countries it victimized and deal with the related issues appropriately.”

 

 With regard to one of the three conditions – adherence to the Murayama Statement – it is possible that China will not make specific demands on the wording of the Abe statement but instead compromise by way of interpretation.

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