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Japan-China trade agreement opposed

Reuters | Sunday, April 09, 2006

Japan-China trade agreement opposed

TOKYO: Japan’s farm minister expressed scepticism toward the idea of a free trade pact with China, while its foreign minister said on Friday the two economic giants should avoid jockeying for power in the region.

Foreign minister Taro Aso said that some friction between Japan and China seemed unavoidable, but added the two nations should make efforts toward mutually beneficial ties.

“Two nations in the same region, economically about the same power. Friction is in a way inevitable, I think,” Aso said at an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Woodrow Wilson School held in Tokyo.

“So somehow we have to find a profitable way for both nations that is a difficulty,” he said. Also is considered one of the possible candidates to succeed prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has said he would step down in September.

Aso said Japan could share know-how with China in areas such as environmental issues and improving energy efficiency.

His comments came after farm minister Shoichi Nakagawa, in an apparent criticism of China, said Japan should not seek free-trade pacts with countries that cannot guarantee the safety of its citizens.

The comments by Nakagawa known for his hardline views towards China and North Korea came after the trade ministry unveiled a proposal this week for an East Asia free-trade zone including Southeast Asia, as well as China, India and Australia.

“A country that cannot guarantee the safety of Japanese civilians would not be a candidate at this point,” Nakagawa said. Asked if he was referring to China, Nakagawa said, “In China a year ago, (Japanese) civilians and firms were assaulted.” He said a common understanding on issues such as intellectual property rights and the legal system was needed.

 source: Reuters