11th Beijing-Tokyo Forum opens amid difficulties

More than 500 senior government officials, diplomats and delegates from politics, economics, academics and media are gathered Beijing at the 11th Beijing-Tokyo Forum, opening Oct. 24.

Jointly organized by China International Publishing Group (CIPG) and Japan's Genron NPO, the forum seeks to invite opinions from both countries on the topic of "Difficulties and Measures: How to develop long-term, healthy China-Japan Relations – East Asia's Future and Roles to be Played by both Countries. "

Jiang Jianguo, Minister of State Council Information Office (SCIO), hailed the forum as an important platform for the people-to-people exchanges between China and Japan, and recognized the positive roles of previous rounds of forums.

In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony, he said the forum should continue to serve as a messenger to relay the voices urging peace and friendship between the two peoples, while the two countries' media should also enhance communications and cooperation for better understanding and trust.

"China and Japan are close neighbors. In more than 2,000 years' communication, peace and friendship has been the historical mainstream. The two peoples learnt from each other and the jointly contributed to the prosperity of eastern Asian civilization."

"History shows that amity between China and Japan could lead to promotion of mutual interests while belligerence could only injure both, and this is why China and Japan should enhance friendship so as to broaden common interest and to achieve win-win results."

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda,highest-ranked Japanese consultant of the forum, admitted current China-Japan relations were in difficulty, as a latest poll showed that some 80 percent of people in both Japan and China thought that China and Japan still hold "unfavorable" views of each other's country, although a slight improvement with previous years. "This is a very abnormal situation and I am quite concerned about that," said Fukuda.

"The reason why we have to improve Japan-China political relations is that they are 'of great significance' to the peace, stability and development of Asia and the world," said Fukuda, quoting an proverb "smart people learn from history and stupid people learn from experience. "

In so saying, the former Japanese prime minster stressed the importance of learning from history, which the pre-WWII Japan failed to do, and therefore inviting the failure upon itself.

"Japan failed because it was once complacent due to temporary success, which made it arrogant and selfish. It did not see the world in a large picture. This is why we have to prevent this part of history, and for that purpose, we should objectively, rationally, and continuously learn from history."

Since the Beijing-Tokyo forum was established in 2005, the mechanism has grown to be one of the most important platforms for bilateral dialogues. Such a sound communication channel is set to stabilize the currently difficult China-Japan relations, before improvement would take place.

"However difficult China-Japan relations become, we will make our best effort to deal with it. Holding this forum is just an example how our effort will extensively gather different voices while expanding consensus," said Zhou Mingwei, President of CIPG.