Japan, China Cooperate On Export Safety

Japanese public concerned about foodstuffs imported from China, following discovery of substandard processed food and other products.

MANILA (Kyodo) - Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, agreed in Manila on Wednesday to cooperate in ensuring that Chinese products exported to Japan are safe and reaffirmed their cooperation over North Korea's nuclear standoff and a bilateral gas dispute, a Japanese official said.

Aso urged great cooperation between China and Japan over food safety, in view of the major influence of China, a rising power in the region, in the international community, and underscored the need for China to make ''serious efforts'' in addressing this issue, the official said.

Yang was quoted as repeatedly telling Aso that China also places great importance on its exports while complaining that excessive Japanese media coverage will not resolve the issue.

Concern has grown among the Japanese public about foodstuffs imported from China, following the discovery of substandard processed food and other products and media reports about the sale of steamed buns filled with chopped cardboard.

Yang noted that difficult issues may still emerge over the six-nation negotiations focused on North Korea's denuclearization and called for stronger cooperation between China and Japan to deal with this.

North Korea finally said last month it will carry out the initial steps for denuclearization after a banking row that stalled the six-party talks—which involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia—was resolved.

Under a Feb. 13 six-party accord, North Korea agreed to shut down and seal its Yongbyon nuclear complex and to invite U.N. nuclear watchdog inspectors back to the country within 60 days as initial denuclearization steps in exchange for energy assistance. But Pyongyang refused to do this until the banking dispute was settled.

With the stalled six-party talks back on track, attention is now on the next-phase actions beyond the initial steps. These are the declaration of all existing North Korean nuclear programs and disabling of North Korea's nuclear facilities.

On bilateral issues, Aso said he hopes that the Chinese side will share the sense of urgency he feels over gas dispute negotiations and consult with the leaders to resolve the dispute as soon as possible, the official said.

Tokyo and Beijing are working to compile a plan by the fall to jointly develop the gas fields to resolve their dispute over gas exploration rights in the East China Sea.

Yang said in response that it is natural for both sides to have differences of opinion and expressed hope that they can resolve the dispute through dialogue.

On climate change, Aso said he hopes that China will proactively be engaged in creating a post-Kyoto Protocol framework to combat global warming and Yang said China wants to deepen cooperation with Japan on this matter, according to the official.

Japan is keen to include China, a major greenhouse gas emitter, in a post-Kyoto Protocol framework. The Kyoto pact does not cover China.

The Chinese foreign minister criticized Taiwan's recent application to become a member of the United Nations, saying it is Taiwan's ''independence campaign in a different form'' and endangering regional peace.

Aso reiterated Japan's position not to support Taiwan's bid to be a U.N. member due to its one-China policy. The United Nations too cited the ''one-China'' policy as its grounds for refusing Taiwan's application.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province that should be reunited with the mainland, by military force if necessary.

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