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UPDATED: October 7, 2008  
Aso Visit to Boost China-Japan Ties
Aso's decision to visit China soon after taking office is a reflection of his willingness to continue on the track of improving relations with Beijing

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso is scheduled to visit China later this month, holding his first talks with Chinese leaders since taking office last month, the Japanese government announced Friday.

Aso will meet with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao when he attends the Asia-Europe Meeting in Beijing on October 24 and 25, the Kyodo News reported.

During his visit, Aso is expected to affirm former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's goal of improving relations with China and stress the need to cooperate on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The two sides may also discuss cooperation on food safety and greenhouse gas emission reduction, the report said.

Aso's decision to visit China soon after taking office is a reflection of his willingness to continue on the track of improving relations with Beijing, analysts said.

"His upcoming trip to Beijing shows that he values Sino-Japanese ties just as much as his predecessors Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda did," said Wang Taiping, China's former consul general in Osaka.

"One message he will likely bring is his willingness to further deepen the mutually beneficial China-Japan strategic relationship," he said.

Aso, a former foreign minister, is very likely to reaffirm his predecessors' objective of further developing ties with the rest of Asia, especially China, he added.

Feng Zhaokui, a senior advisor to the National Society of Japanese Economic Studies, said Aso's visit to China once again showed Sino-Japanese ties are unlikely to be affected by the change of the Japanese premiership.

"Aso, once elected as the prime minister, is fully aware that he has to be pragmatic on foreign policy issues and put national interests first," Feng said.

"A stable and healthy relationship with China is clearly in Japan's interests."

(China Daily October 6, 2008)

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