Good start:

President Hu Jintao’s visit to Japan last week was the first by a Chinese leader in a decade. It was a lot friendlier than the previous one - when President Jiang Zemin publicly chastised his hosts for not showing sufficient contrition over Japan’s brutal occupation of China in the 1930s and 1940s. Unlike some of his recent predecessors, Japan’s Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, has made an effort not to infuriate the Chinese.

It will be a good thing for everyone if these two powerful countries can finally get along. Both sides worked hard to ensure that all went well this time. The two leaders agreed to hold regular summit meetings and increase civil and military exchanges. However, the two sides lamentably failed to resolve a lingering dispute over gas resources in the East China Sea.

On China’s side, Hu did not significantly address or allay concerns in Japan. He could have endorsed Japan for a permanent seat in the Security Council. Especially after the brutal crackdown in Tibet Beijing needs all of the goodwill it can get. That may explain Hu’s tolerant response when the Japanese leader urged the Chinese government to continue talks with the Dalai Lama. It will take a lot more serious effort for two competitors to overcome their past. All in all, Hu’s visit to Tokyo was a start. — International Herald Tribune