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Japan: 'Mature' ties with China to take time
Updated: 2006-02-27 18:58

Japan and China are not ready for the "mature relationship" they need and should begin looking beyond their deep-seated differences, a senior aide to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said.

"It is competition and cooperation ... We must build a mature relationship under which we may see friction and cooperation coexisting," said Hidenao Nakagawa, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who recently visited China.

"We are entering an era that Asia has never seen before -- that is, an era where two regional superpowers are trying to build ties on an equal footing," he said in a speech to a policy forum organized by Jiji Press.

"Naturally, it will take some time in order for two superpowers to build ties on the equal footing," he said. "Is China prepared strategically and mentally? Is Japan ready? I think neither is ready."

Nakagawa said the East Asian neighbors could consider negotiating a free trade agreement, something the Koizumi government has been cautious about, as they sought to build new ties.

China is Japan's top commercial partner, with Japanese businesses enticed by the Chinese manufacturing base and growing middle-class market despite escalating political tensions.

"We must realize the importance of the Sino-Japan ties. We must develop a new philosophy in order to build a strategic partnership with China and shift away from something like 'anti-China' or 'pro-China'," he said.

Nakagawa visited China this month and met with his counterparts in China.

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