Posted by: kenwbudd | December 1, 2009

Japan PM asks China’s defence chief for ‘transparency’ in government

Tokyo (AFP) Nov 27, 2009 – Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama called on China’s defence chief Friday to enhance the “transparency” of the communist giant’s military build-up, the foreign ministry said.

Hatoyama made the request in a meeting with Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie, who held talks with his Japanese counterpart earlier Friday and agreed to promote mutual visits and hold joint maritime rescue drills. Liang arrived here on Thursday as the first Chinese defence minister to visit Japan since Hatoyama took office in September.

The premier told Liang that China’s defence budget has increased “by two digits every year” and that he wanted Beijing to “enhance its transparency more than ever,” the ministry said in a press release.

The Chinese defence minister replied China had been “making effort to enhance the transparency,” the statement said. “China is pursuing national defence policy that is defensive in nature and that will not become a threat to any country,” Liang was quoted as telling Hatoyama.

A Chinese budget report in March said that military spending was to rise 15.3 percent in 2009 to 472.9 billion yuan (69 billion dollars). For the last two years, China has announced military budget increases of over 17 percent.

In the ministerial talks, Liang and Japanese Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa “agreed to make their positive contribution to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world,” according to a joint press statement.

“They agreed to promote their comprehensive, strategic relationship of reciprocity between the two countries through continued and stable exchanges in defence matters,” the statement said.

During the meeting, the two ministers in particular agreed to continue reciprocal visits with Kitazawa now scheduled to travel to China in 2010, the statement said. They also agreed to carry out joint drills for rescue operations against maritime accidents or disasters, with Japanese warships scheduled to make a port call in China next year.

“For us, the relationship with China is unquestionably one of the most important bilateral relations,” Kitazawa told a news conference. Liang said: “China and Japan are important neighbours. We agreed to secure safety and stability in the region by strengthening our defence exchanges.”

At the news conference, Liang, who visited Pyongyang on his way to Japan, made no remarks on North Korea, where he met its reclusive leader Kim Jong Il. Liang was the latest top Chinese official to visit the isolated nation since Prime Minister Wen Jiabao went there early last month as the two nations celebrate the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties.

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