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June 24th, 2008
Japanese Destroyer Docks in China

A Japanese warship docked in China Tuesday, for the first time since World War II. The destroyer Sazanami’s arrival in the southern Chinese port city of Zhanjiang follows the docking of a Chinese warship, the Shenzhen, in Japan last November.

The exchange is symbolic of improving relations between the two rival Asian powers and former WWII enemies.

The Sazanami carried food, blankets and emergency supplies for victims of China’s recent earthquake. Crew members are scheduled to participate in carefully choreographed “friendship” events, including a concert and reception.

But the visit is not without controversy, as many Chinese are still bitter over Japan’s invasion and occupation of their country during the 1930s and 1940s.

Last month, Japan decided against delivering aid to earthquake victims by means of military aircraft because of Chinese concerns about the presence of the Japanese military on their soil. A Japanese newspaper reported that a concert scheduled for today was canceled because “part of public opinion in China is against the Japanese destroyer’s visit.”

Still, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that the visit would “help enhance the friendship and mutual trust between the two counties.

For more on the expanding role of the Japanese military, watch Japan’s About-Face, premiering on WIDE ANGLE on July 8th.

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