BEIJING (Reuters) - The lack of acceptance by many Japanese people of China's rise is one of the root causes of the problems between the two countries, China's foreign minister, a former ambassador to Tokyo, said on Saturday.
Sino-Japan relations have long been affected by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during World War Two.
Japan and China have also more recently been at odds over ownership of a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.
China wants a peaceful, mutually beneficial relationship with Japan, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told an academic forum.
"The question boils down to one thing - whether Japan will really accept and welcome the renewed development and rise of China, which is its biggest neighbor," Wang said.
"China's development has already given Japan very great benefits. But mentally, I don't think the Japanese side is fully prepared for this. I think this is the root cause of many of the issues between China and Japan right now," he said.
Wang said a good Japanese friend had said to him that China was only returning to the position it once held historically, "so we Japanese should accept it completely".
"So I believe that given time, the China-Japan relationship will ultimately return to a normal stable track," he said.
China and Japan have been gradually rebuilding ties after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held ice-breaking talks in Beijing last year.
But China will be holding a military parade and a series of other high-profile events later this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Asia, which could stir tensions again.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard)