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Japanese Prime Minister Meets With China’s Communist Leader

August 12, 1991 GMT

BEIJING (AP) _ Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu today urged China to improve its human rights record as a step toward ending Beijing’s isolation for its crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

Kaifu told the chief of China’s Communist Party, Jiang Zemin, that there is ″a strong concern on the part of the international community with respect to democratization and human rights in China.″

The coments were related by Kaifu’s spokesman, Sadaaki Numata, at a news briefing after the leaders’ morning meeting.

″He hoped for further efforts on the part of China in this regard so he can tell the world that further efforts are being made,″ Numata said.

Kaifu did not raise specific cases or issues or set any conditions, but Numata said human rights are ″a concern we do share and we do hope that the Chinese are mindful of these concerns.″

He said Jiang did not respond to Kaifu’s remarks on human rights.

China has long rejected comments on its human rights record by other countries as interference in its domestic affairs. But that policy began changing late last year as China sought to improve its international standing.

Numata said Kaifu noted that the Communist country has made progress in economic development and stressed the importance of China continuing with steps to open to the outside world and promote reform.

Japan joined Western democracies in imposing sanctions on China after Beijing’s bloody crackdown on dissent in June 1989. But since last year, Japan has sought to end Beijing’s isolation.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Chinese died when tanks and troops entered Beijing and crushed the democracy movement, which began as a student uprising in Tiananmen Square in the capital and later involved hundreds of thousands of people.

Kaifu is the first leader of an industrialized power to visit since Chinese leaders since the crackdown. His four-day visit, which concludes Tuesday, marks a return to normalized relations.

Jiang thanked Kaifu for Japan’s role in encouraging other nations to improve relations with China and expressed satisfaction with the development of relations between their countries since 1989, Numata said.

The two leaders met for 1 1/2 hours in Zhongnanhai, the former imperial park where China’s top Communist leaders live and work. They exchanged greetings in each other’s language.

Kaifu was scheduled to meet later today with President Yang Shangkun.

Kaifu also praised China for its decision to sign the international Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, a surprise announcement that came during a meeting with Premier Li Peng after the Japanese leader’s arrival on Saturday.

China was the last of the world’s five major nuclear powers to agree to sign. Japan, the only nation to have suffered atomic bomb attacks, had lobbied China hard on the treaty issue.

Kaifu also has urged China to support a Japanese proposal to establish an international registry - under U.N. auspices - to record weapons transfers among nations.

Jiang stressed that China’s arms sales do not match those of other major arms suppliers in quality or quantity, Numata said. China is the world’s third-largest weapons exporter, according to U.S. figures.

At a breakfast meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen told his Japanese counterpart, Taro Nakayama, that China supports a comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons.

Kaifu also conveyed Japan’s sympathy for the Chinese people who have suffered in summer flooding that has killed more than 2,000 people.

Kaifu surveyed the flood damage on his flight to China on Saturday.