China, Japan Meet on Blood-Soaked History

Teams from China and Japan met Tuesday in Beijing in a bid to seek common ground over their blood-soaked history, a sensitive exercise in a region where events generations ago can still dictate today's politics.

Ten scholars from each side, specialists in both modern and ancient history, sat down for two days of talks at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, an official at the academy told AFP.

"They'll hold talks today and tomorrow," said the official, who declined to be identified. "After that, they intend to meet at least twice a year."

The two sides aim to eventually compile a joint study, tentatively scheduled for publication in 2008.

Ties between Asia's two largest economies have been strained for years over Japan's 1931-45 aggression on the mainland.

China especially enraged over what it sees as a lack of Japanese remorse for a conflict that killed or injured an estimated 35 million Chinese, the vast majority of them civilians.

Former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi inflamed tensions with annual visits to the Yasukuni shrine in central Tokyo, which honors 2.5 million war dead including 14 top war criminals.

Koizumi's successor Shinzo Abe has so far worked to improve ties with Japan's giant neighbor via gestures such as making China his first overseas destination as prime minister.

The joint history project is a result of such efforts to ease friction, although both sides acknowledge that a huge gulf exists between their respective interpretations of the past.

Source: AFP

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