The following is the text of the interview with Kobayashi Yotaro, chief Japanese member of the Japan-China Friendship 21st Century Committee by People's Daily correspondent Sun Dongmin stationed in Japan.
With the concerns of the Chinese and Japanese governments and leaders, the First China-Japan Friendship 21st Century Committee was established last year. At the First Session of the Committee held in China last year, China and Japan reached a consensus on the importance and strategic position of cooperation between the two countries, they deemed it necessary to remove the obstacles existing in the development of cooperation under the general situation. At present, the Second Session of the Committee is going to be held in Japan, so this correspondent had an interview with Chief Japanese Committee Member Kobayashi Yotaro on September 16. Kobayashi Yotaro is a renowned Japanese leader in the economic circle, lifelong director with the "Economic Fellowship Association" and president of the Japanese Fuji-Xerox Company.
Question: The Second Session of the China-Japan Friendship 21st Century Committee is scheduled to be held in Karuizawa (Japan), what problems is Japan prepared to discuss with the Chinese side?
Answer: Opinions will be exchanged with a broad field of vision on questions of cooperation both between Japan and China and in the entire East Asian region. Opinions will also be frankly exchanged at the session on how to approach the "question concerning national feelings" between Japan and China and on subjects regarding the role of media, besides, the question concerning Japan-China energy cooperation will also be an important topic for discussion.
Q: Solving the question on understanding of history is an important subject between China and Japan. Although this question does not cover the whole of China-Japan relationship, it bears on national feelings. In your opinion how should the present deadlock be broken?
A: First of all, it is necessary to notice that Japan-China relationship has gained significant development since publication of the Japan-China Joint Statement on the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1972. Japan and China currently have some disputes over the question of understanding of history, perhaps this has something to do with Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni Shrine. Frankly speaking, although I myself respect Koizumi's personal conviction, I have different view on the question of Shrine visit. As Japanese Prime Minister, Koizumi's line of action has made the nationals of China and some other countries unhappy, which should be dispelled as soon as possible. However, Koizumi is the first prime minister from the Liberal Democratic Party who visited the Museum of the Chinese People's War of Resistance to Japanese Aggression in Lugouqiao (Marco Polo Bridge), he has repeatedly pointed out that China's development is not a threat, but an opportunity, to Japan, I feel he is enthusiastic about developing Japan-China relations. On the one hand, we expect Koizumi to change his practice, but at the same time when problems cannot be resolved for the time being, it is necessary to do something to develop Japan-China relations, the development of Japan-China cooperation cannot come to a standstill.
Q: Although there exist quite a few troubles between China and Japan, however, China and Japan are not enemies, instead, they should be partners of peace, cooperation is the mainstream of reality. How can temporary and permanent solutions be sought to problems existing in China-Japan relations?
A: Japan and China are absolutely not enemies. Those who look upon China as enemy of Japan, or who regard Japan as enemy of China are very few in both countries. It is indeed very difficult for people to understand each other, for instance, the ideas of Tokyo and Kyoto are quite different. I think the biggest problem in relation to things happened between Japan and China is still the lack of understanding. My second son and some staff members of my company who once worked in Shanghai feel that many people there had very poor understanding of Japan, and some held very stern views, but with the deepening of exchanges, they came to understand that there are also different types of people, and many are good folks, in Japan. It is very important for people in their exchanges to grasp the other side's language and culture. Now in Japan very few statesmen and people in the economic circle understand the Chinese language, and persons who really understand China and have direct contacts with the country are not enough in number. In terms of Japan, it needs to study the Chinese language and Chinese culture, statesmen and high-ranking government officials should know the true feelings of most Japanese nationals toward China. In addition, the way of media reporting is very important, the media need to make explanations on the news background by the use of popular and easy-to-understand languages and there should be the guidance of public opinion.
Q: Postwar China-Japan relations have gone through the development process of "a cold phase, promoting officials through civilians, and concerting efforts of both government and people", people-to-people exchange is an important channel for promoting development. Under the new situation there has emerged the formulation of "promoting political ties through economy and bilateral ties through multilateral ties". How can mutual benefit and win-win result be achieved between China and Japan?
A: Japan-China cooperation requires having the overall situation in mind, Developing Japan-China relations requires medium- and long-term strategic considerations. I fully approve of the idea of "promoting political ties through economy and bilateral ties through multilateral ties". Cementing closer Japan-China economic ties need relevant political ties as the guarantee, the state of "weak political ties and hot economic ties" can't be allowed to stay put; the idea of "promoting bilateral ties through multilateral ties" is vitally important, in the future, US-China relations will affect the world, Japan can play its appropriate role therein. New change is taking place in Asia with East Asia as the center, the world is watching changes in the relations of Japan, China, the ROK and the United States. Asia should learn from the intelligence of Europe and jointly explore possibilities for the establishment of an East Asia community, and the bilateral problems between Japan and China should be resolved through multilateral cooperation.
The text of the above interview is published on page 3 of People's Daily September 17, 2004 and translated by People's Daily Online