Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda bluntly told China Friday that Tibetan unrest had become an international issue, contradicting Beijing's official line, and hinted it could hit the Olympics. Fukuda made the remarks to visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is paving the way for President Hu Jintao's much-anticipated trip here next month.
Fukuda was quoted as telling Yang during a meeting at the prime minister's office in Tokyo that China has to ''squarely face the reality that the situation in Tibet has become an international issue'' and later told reporters that Yang expressed his hope to resolve the matter promptly to make the Beijing Olympics a success.
China has repeatedly countered criticism of its crackdown in the Himalayan region by saying its handling of protests last month was strictly an internal matter.
Yang, who had described Tibet as a "domestic issue" on Friday, reiterated Beijing's position that the Dalai Lama, the region's exiled spiritual leader, was responsible for the deadly unrest.
"If the Dalai's side stops splittist activities, violent activities and activities to sabotage the Olympics, the door for dialogue is open," Yang told Fukuda, according to the statement.
Yang's four-day visit is mainly aimed at preparing for Hu's trip scheduled for May 6-10, the first in a decade by a Chinese head of state.
Although relations between Tokyo and Beijing have warmed recently, ties have been strained by a health scare here over Chinese-made dumplings and an ongoing dispute over lucrative drilling rights to gas fields in the East China Sea.
Fukuda, who took office in September, has sought friendly ties with China, which refused high-level contacts during the 2001-2006 premiership of Junichiro Koizumi due to his visits to a controversial war shrine.
Fukuda told Yang that "both sides need to make efforts to overcome various bilateral problems," the statement said.
"China would like to build a framework with Japan through the visit by Hu so that the two countries will prosper in the long term," Yang told reporters. ''The two countries recognized that we will further promote a 'mutually beneficial strategic relationship' in the future. We also agreed on other key points such as ensuring a successful visit to Japan by President Hu.''
Hu's visit, officially set for May 6 to 10, will be the first by a Chinese president to Japan since Jiang Zemin visited in 1998. Yang also said he told Fukuda that China wants to contribute to an outreach session at July's Group of Eight summit in the Lake Toya resort area of Hokkaido so as to make the event a success.© Wire reports