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The BBC's Charles Scanlon in Tokyo
"Mr Zhu said the past should not be forgotten"
 real 56k

Sunday, 15 October, 2000, 00:25 GMT 01:25 UK
China softens on Japan war crimes
Premier Zhu Rongji and his wife arriving for state dinner in Japan
Premier Zhu wants warm relations with China
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji has said he will not demand a public apology from Japan for war crimes, flying in the face of public opinion in China.

Mr Zhu, who is visiting Japan, made his comments at a televised meeting with members of the Japanese public.

"This time, I am not demanding an apology from Japanese people," Mr Zhu said.

I would like to create trust and clear doubts in order to further promote co-operation

Zhu Rongji Chinese Premier

He added that his soft line on the issue had been criticised at home.

"That's why I was criticised in China," he added.

His comments are more conciliatory in comparison to Beijing's previous strong criticism of Japanese war crimes during World War II.

Charm offensive

Mr Zhu met an audience of 100 Japanese people in a charm offensive that sought to put Sino-Japanese relations on a warm footing.

He told his audience that both countries suffered during the war and that it was time to look forward and hope that history would not repeat itself.

Premier Zhu answering question from Japanese audience
Mr Zhu extended the hand of friendship to ordinary Japanese.

"I would like to create trust and clear doubts in order to further promote co-operation.

"In order to do that, holding a direct dialogue, not only between the governments but also between peoples, is essential," he said.

On the sensitive issue of Japanese war crimes Mr Zhu said:

"We are not saying Japanese people should apologise endlessly, and whether they apologise or not rests with the Japanese people themselves.

"But we just want you to think." he said.

Regional issues

Mr Zhu also touched on security issues in the region, in particular the United States' security arrangements with Japan.

Zhu Rongji
Zhu Rongji welcomes Japanese investment

He addressed the US-Japan Theatre Missile Defence programme and said it was a matter for the two states.

"Whether or not Japan and the United States need a security treaty should be decided among themselves.

"But this framework should not be targeted at a third country, and it should not go beyond the scope of the two nations," he told his audience.

China has criticised the regional defence system because it suspects it might include Taiwan which China claims as part of its territory.

"We have been keeping our utmost patience to resolve it peacefully based on our one-China principle," he said.

He however warned that "unification does not mean we will change an existing framework in Taiwan.

"And it will only bring a positive outcome, but not any negative one, to people in Taiwan," he said.

Mr Zhu said China was opening its doors to Japanese investment to help raise living standards in China's impoverished regions.

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See also:

13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Zhu seeks 'new page' in Japan ties
12 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese PM builds bridges with Japan
26 Nov 98 | Asia-Pacific
Japan refuses China clear-cut apology
25 Nov 98 | Asia-Pacific
China and Japan's love-hate relationship
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