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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 08:44 GMT
Asian giants to tackle tense ties
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi waves to well-wishers as he departs for Santiago, Chile, 19/11/2004
Mr Koizumi says he wants to patch things up with China
Japan's PM Junichiro Koizumi is set to meet China's President Hu Jintao for the first time in over a year, in a bid to improve strained relations.

Tokyo said the sensitive meeting was set to take place on Sunday after a regional economic summit in Chile.

Mr Koizumi said he would raise the issue of last week's incursion into Japanese waters by a Chinese submarine.

Japan said China apologised for the incident, which saw Japan's navy put on alert for the first time since 1999.

The talks between Mr Koizumi and Mr Hu are due to take place in Santiago late on Sunday, after the meeting of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit.

Asked by reporters before he left Tokyo whether he would raise the submarine incident with Mr Hu, Mr Koizumi answered: "Yes. I have to handle this appropriately so that this will not hamper the development of Japan-China relations."

Historical enmity

Ties between the two nations have also been chilled by Mr Koizumi's repeated visits to Japan's Yasukuni shrine.

The shrine is dedicated to the souls of the country's war dead, including convicted war criminals, and is viewed by other Asian nations as a symbol of Japanese wartime aggression.

Mr Koizumi and Mr Hu last met on the sidelines of Apec talks in October in Bangkok. But Mr Koizumi has not been to China since 2001, and Mr Hu has not visited Japan since he took over China's leadership in 2002.

The 21 Apec economies, which include China, Russia and Japan, collectively represent 47% of world trade.




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