Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 16:05 UK
China & Japan: Rival giants

Sixty years after the end of World War II, historical resentments remain a persistent cloud over Japan-China relations.

Japan says it has paid its dues for the past - in the 1951 San Francisco peace treaty and the 1972 joint communique in which China agreed to renounce demands for war reparations.

Yasukuni shrine, file image
The Yasukuni war shrine remains a controversial memorial

Tokyo has issued high-level apologies on 17 occasions to China since.

But China has complained that Japan has failed to repent sincerely for its wartime wrongs.

Between 2001 and 2006 Beijing suspended high-level contact with Tokyo in protest at incumbent Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni war shrine - a memorial many Chinese say glorifies Japan's military past.

In April 2005 Japan was accused of toning down its wartime atrocities in school textbooks - sparking mass anti-Japan protests in China.

The delicate nature of bilateral relations was made apparent once again early in 2008, when Chinese-made dumplings were blamed for an outbreak of food poisoning in Japan.

The incident sparked reports of thousands more unproven food-poisoning cases, and a diplomatic row escalated to the highest levels of government.

The row was eventually defused, and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visited Beijing and Chinese President Hu Jintao paid a return visit to Tokyo.

The pair have also signed a bilateral agreement setting out a blueprint for closer diplomatic ties.

But countering the neighbours' deeply-entrenched suspicions of each other may be difficult.

There is little contact between Chinese and Japanese citizens - and particularly few Chinese tourists to Japan.

The media in both countries are often guilty of playing to popular national prejudices, analysts say.

Country profile: Japan
14 Feb 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: China
02 May 08 |  Country profiles

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