The 11th Tokyo-Beijing Forum was held Oct. 24-25 in Beijing with some 500 prominent Japanese and Chinese leaders, and delegates from politics, economics, academia and the media attending.
Jointly organized by The Genron NPO, a not-for-profit and independent think tank in Tokyo, and China International Publishing Group (CIPG) in China, the two-day annual forum witnessed candid exchanges of opinions and proposals from both countries on the main subject of "How to Develop Long-Term, Healthy China-Japan Relations - East Asia's Future and Roles to be Played by Both Countries."
On behalf of the Chinese and Japanese organizers, CIPG President Zhou Mingwei delivered a welcome speech at the opening of the first-day plenary session Oct. 24. His address was followed by remarks from Yasushi Akashi, chairman of the International House of Japan, who heads the forum's Japanese Executive Committee.
"However difficult China-Japan relations become, we will make our best efforts to overcome the problems. Holding this forum is just one example of how our efforts will extensively bring together different voices while expanding consensus," said Zhou.
Akashi emphasized the significance of the annual forum, which has an unbroken 11-year history, and said that deeper mutual understanding between the peoples of both countries is essential for making the bilateral relationship a continuously stable one.
Following congratulatory addresses by Zhao Qicheng, former director of the State Council Information Office and one of the founders of the forum, and Japanese Ambassador to China Masato Kitera, Jiang Jianguo, director of China's State Council Information Office, delivered a keynote speech.
Jiang hailed the forum as an important platform for people-to-people exchanges between China and Japan, and recognized the positive roles of previous rounds of the forum. "China and Japan are close neighbors. In more than 2,000 years of exchanges, peace and friendship have been the historical mainstream. The two peoples learned from each other and jointly contributed to the prosperity of East Asian civilization."
"History shows that amity between China and Japan could lead to the promotion of mutual interests while belligerence could only injure both, and the key to further development of the two countries resides with the peoples of China and Japan. They should enhance friendship so as to broaden common interests and achieve win-win results," he said.
From the Japanese side, former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, the supreme advisor of the forum, took the podium and said that current China-Japan relations faced difficulties, as the latest Japan-China joint opinion poll showed that some 80 percent of people in Japan and China still hold "unfavorable" views of each other's country. "This is a very abnormal situation and I am quite concerned about that," warned Fukuda in his keynote speech.
"Japan-China relations are 'of great significance' to the peace, stability and development of Asia, and the world," said Fukuda, adding that it is the global responsibility of both countries to stabilize their bilateral relationship and build cooperative relations.
The former Japanese prime minster stressed the importance of learning from history.
"Japan failed because it was once complacent due to temporary success, which made it arrogant and selfish. It did not see the world in terms of the larger 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," Fukuda stressed.
Looking to the future, Fukuda predicted that the world population would amount to some 11 billion by 2100 and so many people on Earth would strive to attain an affluent life, causing devastating destruction of the environment and depletion of energy resources. "Japan and China - two of the world's major economic powers - cannot afford to waste time jostling each other. We must show the world that we are willing to collaborate to deal with the global issues facing us today," he said.
Later, the plenary session proceeded to the panel discussion on the main topic of the forum, co-moderated by Yuji Miyamoto, former Japanese ambassador to China, and Zhao Qicheng. The panelists were Hirohide Yamaguchi, chairman of the Advisory Board, Nikko Research Center Inc., and former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, and Keiji Yamada, governor of Kyoto Prefecture, from Japan, and Lou Qinjian, governor of Shaanxi province, and Wei Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, from China.
With the keynote speech by the four panelists, the plenary session came to a close, to be followed in the afternoon by five breakout sessions - politics/diplomacy, security, economics, media/culture and a special topic on tourism/environment, the summary reports of which debaters made at the outset of the second-day and final plenary session of the forum Oct. 25.
In his closing address to the plenary session Oct. 25, CIPG Deptuty Director Wang Gangyi said that there have emerged signs of improvement in the soured national sentiments between the peoples of Japan and China, following the resumption of the summit last year. "However, no optimism is warranted, given the presence of numerous tasks that should be addressed and the absence of solid foundations for bilateral relations," he said.
Zhou stressed that he is determined to make the forum one of the most important platforms for the long-term and healthy development of bilateral relations in future.
The Genron NPO President Yasushi Kudo, in his closing remarks, said that he was so pleased to witness the candid discussions at each breakout session in which delegations from both countries attempted to find solutions to the tasks Japan and China face.
He concluded his address by noting that it is the ultimate mission of the Japanese and Chinese organizers of the forum to create a platform for bilateral dialogues, which would generate a trend toward the consolidation of Japan-China relations, and toward bilateral collaboration in dealing with global agendas jointly and responsibly.
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