Chinese FM urges 'new future' for China-Japan ties

Nellie Chapman
April 16, 2018

Japanese officials said the mutual foreign ministers' visits for the goal of bilateral talks are the first between Japan and China in eight years.

"Since a year ago, Japan has, in relations with China, displayed a positive message and friendly attitude", Wang said at the meeting, adding that he hoped that the visit would help the two countries move towards better ties.

The visit is also seen as paving the way for a possible trilateral summit next month involving Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korea's Moon.

The dispute over islands in the East China Sea - known as the "Senkakus" in Japanese and the "Diaoyu" by the Chinese - remains a source of tension.

Mr Wang, a former ambassador to Japan, said his visit was China's response to "positive" messages and policies from Tokyo but acknowledged "some complex and sensitive elements".

Tokyo hopes such a meeting will lead to a long-awaited exchange of state visits between Abe and Xi.

Wang's arrival in Tokyo comes ahead of a summit between the two Koreas this month and a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

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South Korea's Moon and US President are also preparing for separate, direct talks with Kim, leaving Abe to continue asserting a "maximum pressure" campaign against the North.

On North Korea, Kono said he and Wang "confirmed that we will work in close coordination, while fully implementing the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, to make the complete, irreversible and verifiable abandonment of North Korea's nuclear and missile (programs) a reality".

"But together with Japan's efforts. we would like to bring China-Japan relations back on a path of sustainable and normal development."The world's second and third-largest economies have a fraught relationship, complicated by long-standing disputes over maritime claims and Japan's wartime legacy".

"For the Abe administration, China is essential to effectively pressuring North Korea", said Madoka Fukuda, a professor of global politics at Hosei University in Tokyo.

Abe is set to meet Trump in Florida this week, where he plans to press the president to maintain a hard line on North Korea and seek to persuade him to take a more multilateral approach to trade.

The time is ripe for the two nations to improve relations to mark the 40th anniversary of their 1978 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, both ministers said.

On Monday, Kono and Wang will co-chair a bilateral, high-level economic dialogue in which they are expected to discuss opportunities for economic cooperation including trade and investment.

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