Japan is an important neighbor of the People's Republic of China. The China-Japan relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships for both sides. The two countries are building a strategic relationship of mutual benefit. The China-Japan relationship went through ups and downs in 2010. The bilateral relationship maintained a sound momentum of growth for a period of time from the beginning of 2010. However, Japan illegally arrested and detained Chinese fishermen and a fishing vessel in September, causing negative impacts on the China-Japan relationship. Leaders of the two countries had meetings and contacts after the settlement of the incident and reached important agreements, which pushed the bilateral relations for improvement. The Chinese government attached great importance to its relations with Japan and upheld the policy of seeking good-neighborly and friendly relations with Japan. China was ready to work with Japan to enhance exchanges and cooperation in various fields, properly handle relevant issues and promote the sound and stable development of the China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit based on the principles enshrined in the four political documents between China and Japan and the agreement of leaders of the two coutries.
The two countries maintained close political contacts.
On 12 April, President Hu Jintao met with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama during the Washington Nuclear Security Summit. On 27 June, President Hu Jintao met with Prime Minister Naoto Kan for the first time on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Toronto. On 13 November, President Hu Jintao met with Prime Minister Naoto Kan during the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Yokohama.
From 30 May to 1 June, Premier Wen Jiabao paid a successful visit to Japan. The two sides made important progress in bilateral relations as positive results were achieved in promoting political mutual trust, economic cooperation as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges. On 4 October, Premier Wen Jiabao had a brief discussion with Prime Minister Naoto Kan during the ASEM Summit in Brussels, Belgium. On 30 October, Premier Wen Jiabao had a short conversation with Prime Minister Naoto Kan before he attended the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.
On 1 May, CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin met with Japanese Prime Minister's Special Envoy Yoshito Sengoku, who came to attend the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo.
From 28 to 29 August, the third China-Japan High-Level Economic Dialogue was held in Beijing. Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada co-chaired the dialogue. The two sides had in-depth discussions on macro, strategic and long-term issues in economic cooperation and achieved broad agreements and results on enhancing cooperation and addressing each other's concerns. Seven cooperation documents were signed, which comprehensively strengthened economic cooperation and trade.
On 12 June, State Councilor Liu Yandong attended the activities of the National Pavilion Day of Japan at the Shanghai World Expo and met with former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, the special envoy of Prime Minister.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada at the fourth Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation on 16 January, the fourth China-Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting on 15 May and the seventeenth Foreign Ministers' Meeting of ASEAN Regional Forum on 23 July. He held talks with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada who came to attend the third China-Japan High-Level Economic Dialogue on 28 August. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara at a series of East Asian leaders meetings on 29 October and the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting on 14 November.
Steady progress was made in economic cooperation and trade.
In 2010, bilateral trade between China and Japan increased drastically. According to the statistics of Japan, China overtook the United States for the first time to become the largest destination for Japan's exports in 2009. In 2010, Japan's foreign direct investment in China amounted to US$4.24 billion. By the end of 2010, Japan had invested in over 43,000 projects in China and paid in US$72.78 billion.
Exchanges in various fields continued to develop.
The two sides kept promoting inter-parliamentary exchanges. On 29 April, the fourth meeting under the regular exchange mechanism between the NPC and the House of Councillors was held in Beijing.
Progress was made in defense exchanges. On 24 February, Chief of Staff of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force Yoshifumi Hibako visited China. On 11 June, commemorative activities were held in Beijing for the tenth anniversary of mutual visits and exchanges between young and middle-aged military officers of China and Japan.
Positive results were achieved in non-governmental and practical exchanges. In 2010, a total of 4,000 young people of the two countries exchanged visits through government channels. Trainings for and exchanges between young and middle-aged officials and personnel in the fields such as disaster reduction and prevention, post-disaster reconstruction, energy conservation and environmental protection were conducted. The work for 700 Chinese journalists and professionals of social sciences to visit Japan was launched. From 7 to 11 February, the first conference of the fifth 21st Century Committee for China-Japan Friendship was held in Beijing and Yangzhou, Jiangsu, during which Premier Wen Jiabao met with members of both sides. From 29 to 31 August, the Beijing-Tokyo Forum was held in Tokyo. On 15 October, the commemoration conference of the sixtieth anniversary of the Japan-China Friendship Association was held in Beijing. From 19 to 25 October, 800 Japanese youths visited China upon invitation. From 27 to 30 October, 700 Japanese youths visited the Shanghai World Expo at the invitation of the Chinse side. On 24 October, the fifth China-Japan Forum on Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection was held in Tokyo. From 30 October to 5 November, the second conference of the fifth 21st Century Committee for China-Japan Friendship was held in Niigata, Japan, during which Prime Minister Naoto Kan met with members of both sides.
The Incident of Japan's Illegal Arrest and Detention of Chinese Fishermen and a Fishing Vessel in the Waters near the Diaoyu Islands
On the morning of 7 September, a Chinese fishing vessel, Minjinyu 5179, was surrounded by patrol boats of the Japanese Coast Guard and collided with the Japanese boats when it was fishing in the waters near the Diaoyu Islands. Japan illegally arrested and detained 15 Chinese fishermen and the fishing vessel and insisted on enforcing the so-called domestic judicial procedures on the Chinese captain despite China's stern representations and strong protests. Japan's action seriously violated China's territorial sovereignty and human rights of the Chinese citizens. China made intensive diplomatic representations after the incident happened and urged the Japanese side to immediately and unconditionally release the Chinese fishermen and the fishing vessel. China was forced to take necessary measures in response to the ever-escalating actions of the Japanese side.
Japan released the 14 fishermen and the fishing vessel of China except for the captain on 13 September. It released the Chinese captain on 24 September. China issued a statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after a chartered plane of the Chinese government brought the captain safely back on the morning of 25 September.