ASIAdocument.write(“” + m[today.getMonth()+1]+ ” “+ today.getDate()+”, ” + theYear + ” “);HOMECHINAWORLDBUSINESSLIFESTYLECULTURETRAVELSPORTSOPINIONREGIONALFORUMNEWSPAPERChina Daily PDFChina Daily E-paperChina Daily Global PDFChina Daily Global E-paperOpinion / Op-Ed ContributorsEditorialsOp-EdColumnistsContributorsCartoonsSpecialsFrom the PressForum TrendsTalk from streetDebateEditors Pick:Syrian refugeescyberspaceV-Day paradeshrimp scandalTPPSome optimistic signs for China and Japan tiesBy Cai Hong (China Daily) Updated:2015-06-01 07:50Comments Print Mail Large Medium SmallPresident Xi Jinping gives a speech during the China-Japan friendship exchange meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 23, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]Relations between China and Japan seem to have hit a more optimistic note recently, after a sustained period of discord.
On his recent visit to Beijing, Liberal Democratic Partys General Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai, in the presence of more than 3,000 people, including representatives from local governments and the tourism industry, as well as the Japanese Diet, presented a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of People on May 23.Xi responded by telling the Japanese visitors that “friendship” between the countries “deserves cherishing and protecting”. Japan has taken his remarks as a clear sign that China is willing to improve ties.
Now the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japan-China Economic Association, along with Japans largest business lobby the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, plan to send an unprecedentedly large delegation to China in November.
Members of Keidanren, a group of Japans listed companies and multinationals, have visited China since 1975, but this will be the first chance for the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a club of small and medium-sized businesses, to join the large firms on their China trip. Keidanrens head Sadayuki Sakakibara has made clear the purpose of the trip: Japanese businesses want a niche in every sector of Chinas economy.
And Japan, a country not known for its openness to outsiders, has rolled out the red carpet for Chinese visitors. In Ginza, Tokyos fanciest shopping district, Mandarin is spoken as much as Japanese. Chinese visitors – the biggest spenders – helped Japan log a travel account surplus in fiscal 2014 for the first time in 55 years. They have been a lifeline to Japans retailers, which have been struggling from shrinking domestic consumer spending: Japans household spending fell for the 13th consecutive month in April.
Yancheng in Chinas Jiangsu Province launched a direct flight to Japans Shizuoka Airport on Thursday. Xiamen Airlines will also open a flight from Fuzhou in Fujian Province to Japans Kansai Airport in July. The new flights make sense given that Chinese tourists are flocking to Japan in record numbers. A strong yuan and weakening yen – falling against the dollar to the weakest level since 2002 – have boosted the appeal of Japan. There are so many Chinese headed to Japan that the Japanese government fears it will run out of the special paper used to print visas.
And in another sign of the thaw in relations, Japans manga movie Stand By Me Doraemon became the first Japanese movie to be shown in China in nearly three years when it opened in the worlds second-largest film market on Thursday. Doraemon, a chubby cat robot with a magical pocket, has become a cultural phenomenon in Japan since the manga first appeared in 1969. It is also hugely popular in China. The return of the iconic character is believed to reflect warming relations between China and Japan.
It is too early to say that these signs of warming ties will eradicate the distrust between the two countries and usher in resolutions to the thorny issues that have driven a wedge between them. Announcing that Japan, together with the Asia Development Bank, will invest $110 billion in high-speed rail, advanced water treatment, and energy-saving technology in Asia over the next five years, a 30 percent increase on previous funding, Abe made subtle swipe at the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank saying. “In order to make innovations extend to every corner of Asia, we no longer want a cheap, but shoddy approach.”
However, more people-to-people exchanges, such as the proposed business delegation will help lay a solid foundation for a normal, sustainable, if not friendly, relationship.
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