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Chinese premier woos Japanese communists

BBC News, 15 October 2000

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji has met the leader of Japan's opposition Communist Party on his fourth day of a state visit to Japan.

Mr Zhu's meeting followed his one-to-one conversations with ordinary members of the Japanese public, which was broadcast on television on Saturday.

The Japanese Communist Party leader Tetsuro Fuwa said both he and Mr Zhu agreed that they needed to strengthen their ties.

I said we should work together ... at a time when we observe dramatic movements towards peace in Asia and the Korean peninsula. And Mr Zhu said he totally agreed with me, Mr Fuwa said.

Later on Sunday Mr Zhu and his wife Lao An, were treated to the height of Japanese technology when they visited the top industrial robot manufacturer, Fanuc, just west of Tokyo.

After watching an assembly line display of industrial robots, Mr Zhu said: Progress in (technology) is really fast.

Service with a smile

The mood of the visit which was threatened by the long-standing issue of Japan's apology to China for war crimes during World War II defused by Mr Zhu during his public meeting on Saturday.

The Chinese premier was intrigued by Japanese robot technology

During the meeting Mr Zhu told his audience: We are not saying Japanese people should apologise endlessly, and whether they apologise or not rests with the Japanese people themselves.

The statement which appeared to calm tensions over the war crimes apology issue however led to the criticism from China.

The highlight of his meeting on Saturday was when a relaxed Mr Zhu played a recital on a traditional Chinese instrument and joked about the need to keep smiling.